It was a rainy morning, a forecast filled with tears.
Ben, the miracle dog, has left us, left my hearth, but not my heart.
These past few days have been the saddest of my life — and that isn’t hyperbole. It seems only right that it has poured rain almost non-stop here for two days, save for a couple of hours where the sun came out and when I lay Ben in a sunbeam as we prepared him for his last. I know some may have a hard time understanding my grief … or understanding the depth of a grief that has been overwhelming, but Ben was more than a dog, so much more than a pet. I’ve never called or considered him a pet myself: he was family, not chattel, not an object. He was not “mine” and I was not his “owner.” We were two creatures bonded together, strong and independent, but dependent on each other, drawn together more and more by a symbiotic thread of life that made us one.
Benjamin was most certainly not a cliché — but he was my best friend. He was also my father; he was even my mother; he was a brother … and he was a son. I’ve heard through secondhand recounts that when some people meet me and watch me, in some contexts, they view me as a stern, serious man. My pensive and somewhat introverted nature certainly has done nothing to challenge those perceptions. But to a person, when they see (saw) me with Ben, they saw a man, a boy, a vulnerable human being with a great heart and a sense of humour. They saw in my interaction with Ben my capacity to love, to give, to accept unconditionally, to give without self. They saw me play; they saw me care; they saw patience; they saw my compassion; they saw my beauty.
Ben was the best of me ….
I do wonder with Ben gone whether people will still be able to see my heart and my humanity? I grant you that I own responsibility for a lot of that … I can continue Ben’s legacy even when he’s not there to be my foil. Ben made me good. I don’t mean that he was a filter through which people saw my goodness, which is true as well. I mean that Ben actually brought out the best in me.
As I said to my friends and family post mortem:
Ben also had the greatest heart … and if you think I have love in me, if you believe I have a great heart, it is because Ben filled me with that … because he fought his way into my heart and opened it to the world.
Ben was and continues to be a life-force. I don’t pretend to understand why — it really has nothing to do with intention. But he just was. He wasn’t an easy dog. And until his last few weeks, he was never lap dog. He found his way to cuddling and connecting, yes, but he was always fiercely independent. There is strong evidence that he had a good amount of Irish Terrier in his blood … and at an early age, I was fond of calling him an Irish terror. He was a fighter and while that made him hard at times, it meant he was a survivor. How else do you find yourself living on the streets of Warsaw still with your baby teeth and finding a way to survive? How do you find not only food, but love in that mix without also being entirely loving? Ben was a fighter, yes, but with a heart made from the hearts of archangels.
I knew how to fight long before I met Ben … but Ben instilled in me that sense of love and for what and why we fight. Through the worst days of my life, through divorces and other losses, through moments of despair, through fear, through confusion, through it all, Ben was my touch stone, my furry rock, the one constant on which I could depend. And in that relationship we shared, and over time, I transferred so many of my hopes and dreams and so much of my love onto Ben. I would have done anything for that dog and I know that I did an incredible amount. I gave so much of my finances and time to him, that is for sure, but I gave him my attention, my thoughts, my values, my heart, my everything. In return, he gave me a love I’ve never felt from anyone else. And the more we gave to each other, the stronger our bond and giving continued to grow. We were everything to each other.
There were days over the past few years and numerous days in the past 6 months of our struggle together that I held him tight to my heart and I made offers to the universe, to whatever force holds this existence together, call it what you will, but I asked that force to take years from my life and give them to Ben. I didn’t care the price or the cost. I wanted Ben to live. And at the end, as I write this, it is the one thing I struggle with most — that I somehow could and should have done more for that sweet little dog that was an external manifestation of my heart.
Ben was the most beautiful dog in the world. Yes, I’m biased, I know. I just have so many incredible memories with this life-force. We had an amazing run. We had an incredibly beautiful last 6 months. And in those last 6 months, since the spring when he was diagnosed with chronic renal failure, we strengthened our bond into a titanium cable that will keep us connected forever. We relived some of the most beautiful memories we created. We lay in the grass and we cuddled everywhere. We filled my computer with pictures. We went on a final walk to our park in our favourite season. We went for ice cream one more time and he fed until he got an ice cream brain freeze. And we got to miraculously, truly miraculously, share in one last Thanksgiving together on Monday and he ate his turkey dinner … and then got some more with some whipped cream on top. And we got to take in together the most glorious fall sunrise the morning before he passed.
Ben was so much more to me than the whipped cream on my life, but he was certainly sweet. For a dog that was fierce and full of boundless energy as a puppy, a stage that lasted 6 years for him, he was equally that most loving and endearing senior citizen. In 18½ years, a dog gets to live a few lifetimes, and there is no question that Ben changed, matured, and grew … he became different dogs and I loved each one of Ben for a different reason, each in his own time and place. I am so blessed to have had so long with this angelic creature … and I’m equally sad that it was only 18 years.
I miss Ben already. I miss him terribly. My heart breaks for his physical absence. He became part of my routine — part of the very DNA of my life. My everyday started with him and ended with him. In the last few weeks, I’d roll out of bed and watch him and see him breathing and know we still had more time. But there was not a part of my day that didn’t have him in it, including constantly making sure he got his pees in every 3 or 4 hours to counterbalance the excess water intake that became a part of his life the past 5 years as he battled Cushings disease … and then the renal failure on top of it. Five years is a long time to be thirsty. I looked at a small stain this morning on the porcelain tiles he often fogged up with his breath waiting for me to come home. And I looked at his little clumps of fur that are caught in all the corners of the house. I realize I won’t have to buy family-sized packs of paper towel and Windex anymore. But oh how I wouldn’t give anything to be cleaning up an accident from him today.
The house grew immediately silent when he took his last breath. It’s a silence that is only broken by my own tears when I hear it, when I don’t hear the clickity-click of his nails on the hardwood anymore. And yet I have heard him several times in the past 48 hours, a sound behind me, near. It happens when I make a sudden noise and I hear him wake and I hear a sound that was all his own, something that became part of my auditory memory. It is the sound of a slight gasp, a sigh, a smack of the lips, and then the quick pants that follow when he lifts his head. It is the sound of him awaking, his gaining traction on the moment. I hear a smile and joy in those breaths as he reconnects with me.
Today, there are no feet coming to me as I eat. There is no friend to share the plate or bowl. I stare at my stove over which I laboured so much over the years, making him his own food. I realize I don’t want to eat right now, let alone cook, because if there was only one thing that connected us — and there were many — food was certainly a shared love … and my cooking in particular. Ben was a foodie and I’ve lost my dinner companion of the past 18 years.
Ben has helped me grow as a human being and he has taught me not only what it is to love but how to share it. Ben is now teaching me how to grieve and it is a celebration of my incredible and very deep love for him that I feel emotionally devastated at his loss … a loss that Ben isn’t physically here to help me through. I want to honour his memory as much as I can to be the man that Ben wanted me to be. I want him to be proud to see that I can love others as I love him. I want Ben to see from wherever he is that I’m trying to expand my circle of trust, of friendship, of patience, of acceptance, of selflessness. I want Ben to know that I did my best, truly I did; I want you to know that I will never stop loving him, that I’ll never stop holding him to my heart.
You will never leave me, Ben. You will never be out of my heart. You will always be my boy, my incredible angel. And know that I will never leave you….
I will protect you always; keep you safe; keep you fed; keep you held and secure.
I will love you forever.
Thank you, my sweet Ben. Thank you for being my miracle, my miracle dog.
~ je t’aime beaucoup.
In Memoriam ~ Benjamin ~ My Miracle Dog
April 25, 1996 – October 15, 2014
Linda Bookhardt says
I came across your site this evening as we just rescued a dog from the shelter with Chronic Kidney Disease.
First of all, I am so sorry for your loss of Ben. They weave their way into our lives and the world is a most glorious place in their eyes. Each one of my dogs has made me a better person, teaching me patience and immeasurable love along the way. I lost two this year, both of cancer and one of old age 10 years ago. I have rescued two more as my love for the dog is boundless.
I already cook homemade food as I was trying to entice my Ella to eat anything before she passed away. It did not help her situation but the newest rescue loves it. I cook all of the ingredients in an Instant Pot and it is similar to the ingredients that you have in yours. I would just need to omit chicken/turkey and use just hamburger, change rice from brown to white and make a few other minor adjustments.
My question to you tonight is do you think your recipe would do well in an instant pot? Possibly put the egg in at the last moment?
I appreciate any advise you may have.
Hi Linda — Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. In terms of your question around the instant pot, largely, I think it could be done, especially if you still brown the meat for more flavour and if your dog will ultimately still eat it. My one caution is with the respect to the veg — which are cooked/steamed separately so that the water, which will leach out phosphorus, can be discarded. If you cook all the raw veg together in the instant pot, you will lose this ability. Hope that helps a bit. Good luck and happy Easter.
Hi Dale, I’ve come across your website in a Canine Renal Failure FB support group. Read your recipe, and then your tribute to Ben, which made me cry. It’s 2022 now, so hopefully you are in a better place, though I can still cry after my Melunia after years of losing her.
A little coincidence as a side note- I’m Polish and my name’s Magdalena, so there’s more that we have in common other than the love for our furry friends.
This is the most beautiful tribute I’ve ever read, including those for humans.
Thank you Magdalena. You’re very kind on all levels and your note really touched me. Thank you. I love such random coincidences and I have a very warm spot in my heart for Poland and Poles, so thank you.
And, yes, I’m going very well. Ben is very much with me always but his memory has company now with my two-year old Aussie, Leo. Take good care and thank you again. ~ Dale
What a beautiful and loving tribute to your beloved dog Ben. Your words brought me to tears they described the incredible bond so well! These magnificent little beings that we have the great privilege to share our lives with are truly a blessing! Just wished they lived longer! Your Ben is honored every time some one cooks up a batch of your wonderful lifesaving recipes! That is a wonderful legacy helping so many on this difficult journey with they’re treasured dogs.
Thank you. It means a lot on many levels that my words, written from the heart, have found the hearts of people like yourself and miraculously delivered my story with Ben. It leaves me in wonder each time it happens. 🙂
Thank you for your kind, kind words in both honouring Ben’s legacy and keeping it alive yourself by reading it all. Wishing you joy and love in the holiday season ahead. ~ Dale
Thank you for sharing this. I am just now finding you. My Katie-girl turns 15 on Wednesday. That was a goal when she was diagnosed last April. She’s stage 4 kidney disease now, but she’s still happy. I anticipate that last walk in her favorite park, that last treat. That last snuggle. I am in anticipatory grief even as she tells me it’s time to go to bed for the evening, even as she gets me up at 4 am. for her first pee. Silly girl, I will never leave her, and she will always be a part of me. Just as your sweet Ben is and was with you.
Thank you for sharing your own experience, Dawn, with your Katie-girl. I can very much relate to you being present while Katie fights through this final stage of her disease. I was there as well and am infinitely grateful that I was able to make the most of that time I had knowing it was fleeting. Stay well and hoping you get a precious Christmas with her in the weeks ahead …
Dale, Thank you for sharing your hear in this beautiful post. Like you, I found your recipe and story as I research the best way to care for my beautiful 15-Year old Yorkie, Dolce, who was diagnosed with advanced Stage 3-Kidney failure. Reading about your experience with your sweet Ben brought a sense of calm to my heart.
Like Ben, my sweet Dolce is a foodie and I am in the throws of trying to find a meal that will nourish her as well as keep her healthy enough to stay with me as look as she can possibly hold on.
Again, I want to thank you for sharing your experience and hope that you realize the good that Ben and you are doing in this world.
Many kind thanks for your sweet words. You’re most welcome and hope that the recipe provides a measure of hope and support to you and Dolce. Nothing like a quest to give us wind in our sails. She sounds like a sweet dog, sweetly named, so thank you again for adding your story to these pages. Best of luck to you and take care.
Hi Dale, reading your story I can’t help but weep uncontrollably as I sadly too am in the same place you once were with my cookie. She’s a 14 year old toy poodle and she was diagnosed with kidney disease 2 years ago. It’s a miracle she’s still here with us but recently she’s started peeing every hour or so and her tongue turns blue at the vets so we can’t get another blood test. They think it’s her kidneys getting worst. She might also have heart disease as that usually goes with kidney disease. The sadness and pain is indescribable knowing that one day not too far off, I will have to part with her. She, like your Ben is a fighter and is still ravenous for food today and I’m hoping to find a diet that will extend her life for a couple years. I’m so sorry about your loss and I share in your pain and anguish. I’m not sure how I will move on without her. She is the light of my life and Everything in my life that is good is because of her. I am beyond saddened. Thank you for this blog and your words as it capture exactly what I wanted to say and made me feel as though I wasn’t alone.
I really needed to read this tonight. I’m incredibly sad that my 14.5 year old pup has CKD and wonder how long the average pup has once diagnosed. When Max was leaving this earth did you have a feeling or was it another frantic thought of running to the vets? I want my baby to leave like yours did – in peace and at home with us Thank you for this
Hi Sonia — I’m not sure who your question is to given your reference to “Max”?
Thank you for sharing this. Every word of it rings true for me and the grief and loss is absolutely overwhelming even now 2 years since I lost my precious Snoopy to hemangiosarcoma. The grief never goes just fades into the background to resurface when ever you reach back. I came to look up low phosphorous diets for a friend’s dog and am sobbing thinking of my much loved baby boy. My life is enriched with the love of the 90 strays I feed in Mumbai city and grieve loosing them when I do. Some were a part of my Snoopy’s daily walks and I have always ensured all his stray friends were looked after. Walks involved carrying a large food bag and feeding them while Snoopy took a commission. We started with 12 and now it’s 90 dogs plus 60 cats. Hope you find another furry wet nosed piece of love soon.
Thank you Sonal. It’s wonderful to reach other kindred animal lovers and certainly those several continents away. The world is much richer for you, so thank you for taking care of all those wandering souls full of love. I’m happy to report that I and my family have indeed (9 months ago) found a new furry member of our family, Leo. He’s a very very different dog than Ben, but such beautiful soul himself and very much wrapped around my heart already. Take good care and all the best to you.
I have two elderly dogs with kidney disease. I live with the constant knowledge that these may be our last few months. Thank you for putting into words how I feel about our sweet pups. ❤️
You’re very welcome. I’m glad my words spoke to you and they have been a way of uniting anonymous souls across a vast world dealing with similar pain. Enjoy your time … the gift of awareness of what you face gives you a special opportunity to make the most of each day.
Jack Pytleski says
Just lost our GSD Gunner to cancer on Father’s Day. Your tribute to Ben expressed everything I felt. We rescued him at 5 and had seven wonderful years with him. We just rescued a 9.5 year old GSD with stage 2 renal and in need of an operation to neuter him and remove a testicle that never dropped. He needs our help and we need his. Thanks for your beautiful eulogy.
Thank you, Jack. It is very touching that words written from the heart almost 6 years ago can help others express what they’re feeling today. I’m very sorry for the loss of Gunner and a real kick in the teeth for it happen on Father’s day, but perhaps it was Gunner’s way of making concrete that you were such a figure in his life. Take good care and heal well.
Kelly Jo Hall says
I came here to look at your information on a low phos diet for my senior beagle girl that I picked up off a very busy street in Houston three years ago. I know we are entering the phase of renal disease even though her numbers, but one look good. Maybe it is because I have always fed her, and my entire crew, a raw diet. And incorporated nutritous vegetables and lots of good oils. I was pleased to see that what I have been doing is what you recommend. What I did not expect was to be privy to your beautiful story! And as a dog lover and rescuer, having 6 canine companions myself, I can relate; but I don’t think I could relay the love as you did. My eyes are moist and I have that feeling you get when you have heard an honest truth that sat right in your heart. Ben was so beautiful and thank you for the story. I hope you don’t mind but I am posting the link to his memoriam on my rescue page so others can enjoy it as well. I want to read all the posts because I want to know how you got Ben – so I hope it’s there somewhere. Thank you for the recipes and explanation of the disease which was so helpful. Very best to you, Kelly
Hi Kelly. Wonderful to hear your own story from Houston. How small our world has become. Thank you for your incredibly kind words about my writing and my own heartfelt in memoriam for Ben. I’m sure by now you’ve found the other stories about Ben which reveals his origins, or at least the origins of his life in mine, but more on him can be found here if you haven’t … an unfinished book that perhaps, with a little luck and some hard work, will get finished: https://eatswritesshoots.com/benjamin/. Thank you again for your touching words and good luck with your own troupe. 🙂
caroline Johnson says
Homeopathic Remedy helped dogs kidney disease :
My Jet is nearly 17 and has been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney disease. I am very grateful for all your research and the other pdf from the nutritionist. I am sniveling down here in South Australia, having read your Eulogy to little Ben.
Little Jet had a kidney episode about 2 years ago when he started to drink and wee copiously…..you may want to share this information….so, at the time I had just met someone who takes her dog to the homeopath…human homeopath. So I decided to try as the vet had $1000 worth of tests to suggest. So I drove him to the homeopath who interviewed Jet, on her veranda through me….all sorts of questions for an hour. She gave him some drops and some drops for his water and from the next day on the copious drinking and weeing massive puddles all stopped like a miracle. So now that Jet has this diagnoses, I will make your diet tomorrow, and I have been back to the homeopath. I think they are wonderful.
Hi Caroline and greetings to you Australia. Thank you for sharing own experience with the homeopathic treatments you’re doing with Jet. I hope along with you that the treatments and all your love and care extends his life and your relationship much longer. Wishing you the very best. ~ Dale
I found out a week and a day ago that my Lucky dog is in the beginning stages of kidney disease. (corgi/Shelti) His bro died 1-2 yrs ago from kidney failure My daughter had first gotten the two dogs as puppies but couldn’t keep them so I took Lucky and her friend took Rio. I asked our vet if this can run in families and he said yes. He looked up Rio’s records and he said Lucky is nowhere near where Rio was. So, I ordered a case of dog food for kidney disease and, because of the expense, started searching for recipes to make my own dog food That’s when I found you. I sent the links to yours and a different person’s pages to my vet asking for his recommendation He approved of yours.
I saw the memoriam to Ben and decided to read it. I’d had a Terri-poo for about 14 yrs when she’d gotten sick and we couldn’t afford everything that would have needed to be done to save her. She may not have lived anyway. I held her while the vet injected her with the life-sucking drug. I still cry/grieve when I think of it. That was 7 1/2 years ago We’d had Lucky by that time which really saved me. So here we go to this trial of kidney disease My health is not good; I don’t cook much anymore but I feel I just have to try. I can’t just let him go without trying.
I really just wanted to say thank you Thank you for the recipes for how you write, for your honesty, and for loving Ben. The memoriam was wonderful. I read it with tears streaming down my face He truly was a very well loved dog! ❤️
Thank you Janquito. There is something uniquely precious about the kindness of strangers when expressed. Indeed, your message along with a handful of others tonight have all united to bring tears to my eyes with your own kindness. All of this seems to further reinforce the power and importance of being vulnerable with our hearts … while it lets us feel our sorrow, yes, in letting is free we — and I — allow our hearts to be touched in amazing ways … ways I never knew before people like you have come to comment and share. Thank you. The words are just words without readers who make them into feelings.
I wish for you a strength from unknown sources as well as you start on this journey with Lucky. It sounds like he’s aptly named and to be with you. Ride well together on this road ahead and may you both be able to hang your heads out the window on the way, smell the sweet smells of summer, and know and cherish the special love you share. Thank you again.
Beverly Rowe says
You and Ben have added more months (hope for years) to my sweet girl’s life. We started Ben’s diet after a diagnosis of kidney disease: She wouldn’t eat the commercial prescription food. By a miracle or maybe your angel Ben intervening I came across your diet for Ben. From reading your post about Ben’s passing my heart overflows with sadness but yet delights at the bond you shared. Time eases the sharpness of the pain but the grief will always be with you. This is just to let you know I will never forget you or Ben. He made a difference in this world and I know his spirit will never leave you.
Dear Beverly — Your words are among some of the kindest and sweetest words expressed here. Thank you. They are incredibly touching and mean a great deal to me. My heart is certainly still tender at the loss but the sharpness is slowly, very slowly abating. I know Ben’s spirit is still with me and us all, helping and leaving his little doggy imprints on many. He’s been nudging me of late and seemingly inhabiting so many dogs that have come up to me and pressed their hearts into my hands. I’m so very grateful that he and these posts have made a difference in your life and that of your sweet girl’s. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your message and tenderness. May you receive the same from a ‘stranger’ when you most need it.
Sarah Breeze says
I was searching for a simple duck with sour cherry sauce recipe and ended up getting so much more. I read about a stranger losing a beloved companion with tears running down my face, my own 14-year old feline friend sleeping peacefully on my lap. She is winding down, has chronic kidney disease, and though she’s doing well on her medication, I am grateful for every day with her, and am dreading the day when I have to say goodbye. She’s been with me through the majority of my adult years, and though a relationship with a feline is different than that with a canine, I can’t imagine my life without her. Thank you for your beautiful tribute to Ben, and for sharing it with us.
Hi Sarah — Thank you profusely for your kind words and comments. All the most special coming from a feline lover who wants to share them with canine lovers as well. I can say that I personally love all animals and can appreciate that we all form our bonds with whichever animal that steals our hearts. They are real, they are ours, and I can well imagine what it feels like in your own heart. From one animal lover to another, thank you for your kind words, for sharing your own love, and for making the world a better place for life. Merry Christmas.
Gene Mohr says
Right now I have my Lil Bit on my lap going through the same thing . I am devastated. We have only had her for 4 years. She found us, ran in the house one day when the door was opened and has never left. She has been my constant companion ever since. I am trying to deal with my feelings. I spent 21yrs in the Army as a hard nose NCO, and I am like you, introvert and appearing hard. But this little dog and my wife see straight through the tough exterior. Thank you for sharing Ben’s story and yours of grieving. May your life soon be filled with the sound of little feel and wet noses again soon.
Dear Gene — thank you for stopping by here and sharing your story and providing support for my own. My wife keeps asking me when I’m ready for those sounds and feelings again, so your wishes are apropos. The 4th anniversary of Ben’s passing is coming soon (October 15th) so the comments that I’ve been receiving of late have been especially poignant — and especially for those, like you, in the process of transition. It isn’t really a process of “letting go” — neither in the moment of loss, nor in the grieving and the wrestling with the pain. Rather, it is a process of adaptation and reconciliation — of going through the physical or metaphorical ‘shoebox’ of memories and processing not the loss, but what we have/had. It is, as I tell so many, a process of getting to “celebration” and remembrance more than it is about goodbye (though this needs to sort of happen too). For me, and perhaps for you, is less about letting go and more about “making room.” A time to make space on the shelf — again, physically in our homes so our companions are in fact never lost nor forgotten and always near — and a place in our emotional memory to always be held close. I hope that your Lil Bit, in the time she was with you, that she helped the NCO in you create a special space for her that the defender in you will always be able to protect. Peace to you and rejoice in the love you have experienced. Best of care to you. ~ Dale
Sondra Harnes Selway says
Moved to tears while reading about your and Ben’s journey. Thank you for sharing your research and recipe. My Kiri and I are walking the same road. I rescued her from a tiny Virginia pound 15 years ago. She has been by my side ever since. Here is a link to a song for Ben, The Angels’ Lullaby, recorded by my choir.
Dear Sondra — Thank you very much for your kind words and your tribute. October is always a difficult time for me as the leaves change here and I am reminded that the anniversary of Ben’s passing is near … a time all the more difficult because the Fall season was always very dear to us both in terms of our outdoor walks, activities, and annual photo shoots. It is very sad journey, to be sure, and while the road does have an end, it is path that always remains connected to our present road. Much like the season itself, it is one of transition and “loss” but also one of beauty and rhapsody of colours. No matter the days that are hard, in most, there is celebration and joyful remembrance. Wishing you tremendous strength and resilience on your own journey. Take care and thank you again for the beautiful piece of music. It moved me deeply.
Grahan Ford says
Hi Dale, your words are wonderful and inspirational. I have had three small dogs for the last 17 years. Sammy, the oldest left us in 2013 at the age of 17, but since then the other two, Dave and Schnoody have been all over the world with us, coming from Australia, to England and now to Spain, where we have lived for the last 9 month. The fact that they came with us and had time with us in our new home we find comforting. Three weeks ago we lost Dave at the age of 16 and now the last of the team, Schnoody has bad kidney issues, which is how I came across your post. I will be following your diet now to see if we can eek out some final months with our beautiful boy.
I too have found writing a comfort and have compiled a couple of poems for, and from, Dave as well as a video on YouTube of his life. I hope you like them.
It is so very hard to let go of a loyal, loving friend who has spent every living moment of the last 16 years by your side.
It is even worse I suspect because every day for the last two and a half years of his life he was so totally dependent upon us with his diabetes and blindness, and the constant and nagging thought that I could have done more.
I hope you will forgive me this indulgence, but it is my way of grieving for him and his loss. It’s my way of calming my need to be close to him and to remember him and to have him here with me still.
As one wise person said, “I think the hardest part of losing a dog you love is the way your entire world changes without them and the emptiness that’s left in your heart when they go….”
So here are two poems. I am not claiming them as completely my own work, but in the main, they are. The first one is my poem for Dave, the second, Dave’s poem for us, written in the way I know he would see it.
I hope you like them…….
Your lovely face was greying
And time was taking its toll
But your coat was still bright
And how I miss your call
And now that you’ve gone
I have something to say
I love you, and miss you
Day after day after day
I miss your weird dance
You soft hair in my hand
Your tongue on my face
How tall you could stand
Dave, I miss your love so much
And your delicate bark
Even your clever approach
To other doggies in the park
Did we part too early?
Guilt and grief my only friend
It goes around in my mind
Too much to comprehend
I rack my brain for answers
Could we have done more
To keep you here beside us
And save you from deaths door
And now you don’t greet us
As we walk through the door
You are no longer there
To make us laugh anymore
Life is quiet without you
You were far more than a pet
You were family, a friend
A loving soul we’ll never forget
It will take time to heal
For the silence to go away
You know I still listen for you
And miss you everyday
You were such a good boy
Constant, loyal and true
Our hearts will always wear
The pawprints left by you
It broke our hearts to lose you
You didn’t go alone
For part of us went with you
The day you were called home
You always were so special
We were never far apart
You brought us so much joy
And left happiness in our heart
I’ll never trade a moment
Of the time I spent with you
Or the warmth you shared with us
You were our sweet Davey Doo
You were there when I was lonely
You were there when I felt sad
An everyday joy that touched my life
I was so proud to be your Dad
Our hearts now feel so empty
A void you’re not here to fill
You gave love unconditionally
Such loyalty, and such a will
You were a tough trooper
The things life threw at you
But you stood and took it
Your braveness just shone through
You left us precious memories
Your love is still our guide
And though we cannot see you
You’re always by our side
Such a terrible feeling
The day the vet, she came
In life we loved you dearly
in death, we do the same
We just couldn’t keep you,
No matter how we tried.
You’ll never be forgotten,
My God how much I’ve cried
Now we have your ashes
Your life we couldn’t restore
So you are always with us
And will be evermore
Our family chain is broken
And nothing seems the same
But as we’re called one by one
The chain will link again.
I know that you can’t see me
But trust me I’m right here
Although I’m not beside you
My love for you stays near
I think about you always
I know just where you are
You’re at those places dear to us
You took us in the car
When you’re walking down the street
With me on your mind
I’m walking in your footsteps
Only half a step behind
I often see you crying
And calling out my name
I want so much to lick your face
And ease some of your pain
Remember dad I miss you
I know you loved me too
You were always there for me
Our love just grew and grew
Our memories are precious
So please do keep them close
Remember all the great times
For me they mean the most
Say hi to my brothers
To Schnood and Toby too
I miss you so my siblings
It seemed that life just flew
Schnoody please don’t fret so
Look after Dad and Mum
I’m just here with Sammy
There’s no need to be so glum
I know it was hard for you
To say goodbye my Dad
I’m finally at peace now
So please do not be sad
And when it’s time for you to go
From that body to be free
Remember you’re not going…
…your coming here to me.
And here’s the link to his life video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LFrAm2K9jQ&feature=share
Good luck to everyone who loves and is loved by these wonderful creatures!!!
Dear Graham — You most certainly found a kindred soul here who understands wholly the profundity of your loss and what you’re feeling. My sincere condolences — it is indeed a kick to the heart and every other organ; it wracks our very being; it leaves a hole and vacuum that in the moment seems impossible to fill; it is like being born again, but conscious of the pain and dislocation. I appreciate and very much can relate to your own strategies for managing this change as you turn to words and writing and your video compilation to preserve Dave’s story and your symbiotic place within it …. It is a powerful strategy to manage the loss because in the moment when it feels overwhelming, it reminds most acutely of the beauty and the gift of the life and love shared. Yes, it makes the loss more palpable and defined, but it does create the start of balance and sows important seeds. While the hole will never truly go “away,” you will adapt and find peace in those memories and that life you shared. Thank you for sharing and for your own very kind words — but truly, any inspiration is really just a manifestation of my vulnerability and letting Ben’s love through. Peace and strength to you. Take care.
Grahan Ford says
Hi Dale, I have read your kind reply over and over and have actually struggled with what to say to you. Firstly your site, the other animal lovers comments and your love for your Ben has helped me very much. Its been nearly a month now since we lost Dave and whilst the hurt is not so recent, anything at all will be referenced to him and bring memories and tears flooding back. Such as driving past the place where he had his last walk for instance..Anyway our other old boy Schnoody is on your diet and in the main eating it, although I have to play all kinds of tricks to get him to eat enough, like heating it up etc He is having another blood test today so we will see how we go. I agree that our furry loved ones are truly the real inspiration, making us better people in so very many ways, but I also think you should accept that you aren’t doing such a bad job yourself…so thank you so much for sharing and caring. Cheers from sunny Spain!!
You’ve done a very good thing by Dave, Graham, and you’re doing a great thing for you. You’ve done a great thing by me, as well, in sharing all of this. Thank you. Those memories you describe, for me it is the definition of being ‘haunted,’ not in a bad way at all, but in a ‘present’ way … like our loved ones haven’t really left us. I became grateful for that pain because I knew Ben was still near while I felt it.
Really, all of this has been a profound and powerful experience in discovering my own humanity, Graham. Starting from Ben coming into my life, our journey together, his palliation and certainly his loss. This ‘little project’ as part of my blog, of sharing this recipe and my own experiences, has been deeply moving for me. It’s been cathartic and humbling — and it’s certainly become much more than I ever expected. It’s been transformational and part of that transformation I’m still struggling to learn is to accept the “thanks” and very kind words from people like you. My goal has only been to share — I guess I never really thought ahead to what that might feel like, in part because I really never expected thousands of people to read this stuff and say thank you.
And cheers back to you in sunny Spain. My wife and I spent our honeymoon there a couple years ago and we fell madly in love with the country. We can’t wait to return and discover more of the country and culture. Enjoy!
Grahan Ford says
Hi Dale, not wanting to hog more space on your amazing website too much, I decided that I would not return until the last of my friends and compadres had left us. Well I am so very, very sad to say that the unthinkable has now happened: our amazing, wonderful, adorable friend, mate and partner in crime Schnoody has left us.
He was ailing though with failing kidneys and a dicky heart, but, as with all his life, he fought and fought to stay with us.
If you remember it was my need to find a suitable diet for him with his renal issues, that I found your site in the first place. I am convinced that your recipe helped him have the last two months with us; two months when we knew he was going to leave us, but in which we were able to talk, share and love each other and remember all the things we have done together all over the world. So thank you so very much.
His final moments were spent in his bed in comfort and we are so grateful that he went this way. He waited until Julie, my wife, got home, had a drink of water and took himself to bed. At 17 and a month he was quite simply the most incredible little boy.
He spanned 2 marriages, three countries, 2 hemispheres, 5 different homes and 17 years of my life.
He was my mate, my human, my go-to boy for so many things. He was Dave and Sam’s brother and if I think back, he has gone downhill from the very moment his lifelong friend and brother Dave left us in July.
Apart from the last few months, he slept inches from my head every night for nearly 17 years. His rhythmic breathing was the last thing I heard when I went to sleep and the first thing I heard when I woke. In fact I remember when he was only 10 weeks old he used to look for his mother’s nipple in my hair at night.
He was stubborn, tough and independent; he was loving caring and thoroughly in tune with everything happening around him. He knew how I was feeling, he always knew what was going on, sniffing my clothes to see if they were going out clothes or staying in clothes just one example of his clever tactics.
7 years ago, just before we were about to leave Australia to come back to England, he was bitten by a paralysis tick, which for most dogs is a terminal scenario. For one reason or another he had this tick poisoning him for 5 days, two days longer than most dogs survive under such circumstances. He had to have a blood transfusion and it was touch and go for 24 hours. But Julie and I got the best Christmas present anyone could hope for when the phone rang at 5am on Christmas morning to say he was OK and to come and pick him up from hospital.
He has always been an athlete and, until only a few months ago, was still staggering us with his flexibility and athleticism.
He loved his walks, he loved his chewies and he loved curling up somewhere warm. He loved lying in the grass; in fact we could probably fill a picture book with all the photos we have of him luxuriating in the sunshine, lying in the grass. He was the world’s most amazing escape artist. All his life he has found ways to get out of places that were never meant to get out of, and somehow, he survived busy roads and dangerous country lanes…. He loved doing whatever we were doing, a trait that has endured until his very last days (Monday) when he came up to the golf club to sit in his pram, (he hated sitting on a hard floor) to sniff the world, the food and watch people come and go, cos he was eternally nosey and interested in things around him!
The morning of his passing (October 17th), before I went to play golf, I had a feeling that I had to talk to him, so I carried him to the end of the garden and we had a talk about his amazing life, how he had lived in so many different countries and talk him through the rules of golf. As he always did, he put his head high in the air and took in a large breath, breathing in the smells of another adventure in Spain, and then put his head on my chest. I am so happy that we had that chat and that I took some photos of him on his last day on this earth.
Whilst for me it is the end of an era, my three little dogs, Sammy, Dave and Schnoody are now no longer with us, but I feel so blessed that they all gave us so much. So much of their time, so much of their love and so much of their companionship. I remember sitting them all down when we were bringing them back from Australia seven years ago and giving them all a stern talking to. I told them they had to give me 3 more years at least when they got to England, and they promised. Sam who was 17 himself when he passed, gave us 2, Dave gave us a staggering 6 and a half, and Schnood gave us nearly 7. I could never have thought that they would be with us for so long and for that Julie and I are so very, very grateful. They have been a delight, a blessing and I have learnt so much from them; they have, quite simply, made me a better human being and for that I can’t thank them all enough.
Schnoody was quite literally perfect in every way; funny, interesting and interested, entertaining, exciting, happy, lovely, charming, delightful, engaging, irresistible, bewitching, magnificent, amazing, beguiling, gorgeous and incredible. Our friends all over the world have been so amazing helping us mourn his passing for he was not an ordinary boy, he was Schnood and he was THE SPECIAL ONE!
Wishing you a great peace, Grahan. I’m very sad for your loss and sorry to hear that Schnoody has departed your life and that of your family. You clearly had a very similar relationship with Schnoody as I had shared with Ben and there are a great many parts of your story that draw me back into my own. It does sound like you have had many a fortune lived and shared and that one of your fortunes is being aware of the wealth of experiences with your dogs and Schnoody you’ve possessed. For me, that was the hardest part to learn and required the immerse myself in the memory, possess the pain, to hold the love. The years make it easier, but the pain is always there … and that’s ok. I’m glad you had these very special couple of months with Schnoody, a great farewell, indeed … and that your last few days were so incredibly precious and precious lived. Cherish it always and may the healing find your heart. Take special care, Grahan, and thank you for sharing always. ~ Dale
I am where you were…never giving up.. giving my “Lumpy” (weiner dog) the best opportunity for the life he has left.
Rachel B says
Ben’s diet is still extending lives <3 Magic, my heart, my soulmate, my everything, was diagnosed a few months back, and Ben’s diet brought him back to life these past couple months. He stopped eating this week and is declining fast, but I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing information that allowed us to have those final happy weeks together. It really was a miraculous turnaround once I got him on your diet. What an amazing legacy you and Ben have created! What better way to leave a mark on this planet than by easing the transition for thousands of people and their beloved companions. Bless you!
My heart goes out to you, as well, Rachel. It sounds like you have approached this with your eyes wide open and I’m so glad that you found ‘magic’ in this for yourself. It is a heart wrenching transition mixed with magic and moments all the more precious because our eyes are open to them. Your words are beautiful and I’m very grateful to have been a small part of this very intimate moment in your life. Thank you as well … and peace with you.
Rosalinda G says
I lost my Otto (toy rat terrier) at 17 years recently due to bone cancer. I had him since he was 6 weeks old.
My husband and i cried all night the day we had to end his pain. I miss him dearly.
I could relate to so much of what you wrote.
Thanks for sharing.
Dear Rosalinda — my deepest sympathies on your loss of Otto and I wish you and your husband much support as you adjust to this empty space in your life. Thank you for your own sharing and sharing in my pain and loss. The ‘missing’ doesn’t go away but in my experience, at least, we get sort of used to living with that space. It sucks though, of that there is no question. Please take care ….
Hi Dale.. I read the story of Ben in tears. Yes these creatures find a way to attack our hearts, be part of it and leave a broken heart when they gone. We are now working to keep ours as healthy as we can, that’s why I came across your website. God bless you and your loved ones, merry Christmas..
Thank you Ebru and Merry Christmas you and family as well. Wishing you strength and peace and ultimately a path through you own heart break. Indeed, it takes heartbreak to truly understand it. Take care and thank you again.
Hi dale…. I am sorry to ask this painful question but your input would help me greatly…. I can tell you loved Ben as much as I do love my dog so you would understand me. Did Ben pass away naturally? Did you consider putting him to sleep? How was Ben doing days before he passed? Did he still eat, vomit? I believe my dog Maggie is at the end of her kidneys functioning but I can’t make the decision…. she still eats (not that often), vomits sometimes, and she is still “here” mentally with us. She looks at me and I can’t make the decision…. anything will help. Thank you dale
Hi Sally. It is the hardest decision any one will have to make. If you’re honest with yourself, with your head and not just your heart, “you will know” when it is time. When the good moments are buried under the bad …when there is no more “quality” to life … something you can likely define because you personally know your Maggie. For Ben, while his decline was gradual, he was eating and “fine” until that final day when he had some kind of cerebral event (stroke?) and it made my decision pretty obvious but still incredibly hard. No one can not will have the right to judge for the decision you may have to make. Trust your head and let your heart guide you. Best of luck. Hang in there. ~ Dale
Thank you so much dale…. it helps greatly. Gods best to you
Thank you again … 🙂
Hi Dale! Is it possible to get some of the recipes so I can make them for my little Nina or point me in the right direction. Thank you so much for the postings and my heart goes out to you and the love for your little guy. Blessings to you for sharing your research with us.
Hi Charlie — I’m sure you’ve found the recipes on the site by now, but in case you haven’t, here’s the Low Phosphorus one. You’ll find the link therein to the “Breakfast” as well. Wishing you your own blessing as well. Thanks for stopping by.
Oh Dale, you are not alone. All of us who have been privileged to care for beloved pets as they ail and fail are with you. “Many will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave paw prints in your heart”. Know that your heart has space for many paw prints, and I hope some more special ones will come your way. I mourn my beloved Skipper, Shep, Boy, Bobbie; each was so special and brought me joy, meaning, companionship, fun and, in the end, the pain of loss. I’m now going through it again with my beautiful Fly. It is worth it. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Hilary for both your post in the diet and these, your words of support. It is indeed worth every moment and suspect that there will be an opening in both my heart and our home again in the years ahead for more canine companionship and love. It is purely special and missed.
Susan Beck says
We rescued a very mistreated and sick little Corgie a couple years ago and she has now been diagnosed w stage IV kidney disease. They estimate her age at about 6 years and it just breaks my heart. I just brought her home from the EPC and was looking for information on how to reduce her phosphorus level when I came across your hamburger, rice and egg white recipe…. she loved it. I couldn’t get her to eat a thing before this. They say maybe she has 3 months but I am determined to try to get her more time, quality time. I was so very sorry to read that your boy Ben had passed however, you were so blessed to have each other. I loved your beautiful story and I feel your pain. They become part of us and our love for them is never ending. God bless you and there are so many more in this world that need love and will love you in return,
Thank you, Susan — thank you for your beautiful and kind words. I hope, as you do, that your get many more than 3 more months with your girl, but I know how hard that kind of prognosis hits when your heart feels such love at the same time. Wishing you the best of luck with the recipe and thank you again for your words of support.
Such a lovely memoriam, it was hard to read as I’m actively in process of losing my first dog. Gracie is also a miracle as she was diagnosed with heart disease almost a decade ago and is now 17 years old and still fighting on. She is my family and most trusted companion, she sat next to me for 6 months on my bed as I recovered from a car accident, she has been the easiest dog to care for a loved by many.
Her medication to control her heart disease along with her age is finally taking a toll on her kidneys… and her medication also decreases her appetite. I found your blog by way of looking for food that she will eat and found the food you created for Ben. Appreciate all the research you did for the sake of Ben, and know that it is helping another really special dog.
Dear Colette — thank you for the beautiful message and sharing your own miracle story. Gracie sounds like a beautiful gift. I hope the recipe helps her — and you — through this next chapter in her medical care and that it provides her another miracle. Happy Thanksgiving from Ottawa.
So sorry for your loss
What a beautiful pet.
. I always had pets all.my life .my heart breaks every time I lost my loving pet my family member who gave unconditional love. When I adopt I adopt adults or seniors and give them so much love and a good home.
Some of them never had that in their life before I adopted them.
They have learned to love and trust.
I will always share my life with them.
ThankYou and God bless.
Thank you again, Linda. You’re a very kind person and I greatly appreciate all your words of support.
LINDA BLOCK says
Oh my. I found you when researching a homemade kidney diet for my 16 yo rescue pup. She has brightened my life but is now in her last glide home. We lost our family Samoyd five years ago and I’m having the horrible memories of the pain. Somehow you have found the words to honor those unique relationships for us loners for whom dogs become our equal, and comfort me in our impending ordeal. Thanks
Corinne Severin says
My heart is filled with sadness and love at the same time. Ben was and IS an amazing boy. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m a huge dog lover too and lost a few fur babies over the years. It’s never ever easy. Have a blessed day ❤️
Such a sweet message, Corinne. Thank you. Ben would certainly be giving you all his attention for lavishing him with such love. He was an amazing creature and friend and there is no question, his love and memory lives on beautifully here with such kind thoughts. Thank you again.
Auntie Blues says
What a beautiful tribute. You captured that deep soul-connection a human can develop with his/her animal companion so poignantly. I lost my “baby angel,” a toy poodle last November. Two years earlier, he had surgery for a life threatening lung torsion & even our vet called him “the miracle dog.” After several months, I started to THINK about another dog… just think about it. My dog had been a pure bred poodle, the only kind of dog I’ve ever had. My husband saw me looking at rescues & asked why we didn’t just visit a breeder again. I replied that I had a feeling my dog was already out there, and he was close. As it turned out, he WAS close–living with a foster Mom right in our town (though the rescue organization is about 15 miles away). He lived there for about 4 months; he is a darling little Maltese-Shih Tzu mix, but has an autoimmune dry eye condition that requires a lot of attention & some rather pricey eye ointment. I didn’t care–it was love at first sight. He jumped in my lap & showered me with kisses & I was done. During our “trial” week I took him to a vet who said he had a strong heart murmur. I decided to get a 2nd opinion, and yes, it was indeed a Grade 4. The rescue’s own vet had graded it a 2 or 3, so I began to research heart murmurs in dogs & found that they can be caused by anemia…. which causes a pale tongue. I’d noticed that before, but didn’t think too much of it since his little paw pads are pink & even his nose is tan. I went to my vet & asked him to do a blood test. He told me my little guy would be much sicker if he was anemic, but he’d check it for my peace of mind. Low and behold, he did have some pretty severe anemia (less than 1/2 the red blood cells he should)… AND some alarming BUN & creatinine numbers. Looks like around early stage 3 kidney failure. That’s how I wound up on your site–I was searching for a homemade kidney diet recipe.
I can’t help wondering why out of 3 different vets he saw, no one said “Hmm, heart murmur, pale tongue… we’d better check for anemia.” I hope the delay didn’t make things worse, but since he’s a rescue & has no history, we’ll never know. So… here we go again. Another sick dog, astronomical vet bills, tears & heartache & worry…but I wouldn’t change a thing.
He is such an AWEsome, good, loving dog & I adore him. He’s not showing many symptoms yet, other than being a little lethargic. He still loves his walks & begs for the food he’s not supposed to have! I’m working hard to get him stable but I know his time with us may be limited. We always imagined our late dog sent him to us… came to this little dirty, matted stray on the streets & said, “Hey, find your way to these people. They take really good care of sick dogs, & they’ll love the (bleep) outta ya.”
Anyway, I am sorry for your loss of the best friend a person could have. Your writing is… alive. I love it. And thanks for the recipe… my boy will be having this tomorrow.
Barry Rose says
I guess we all cope in our own way. I just lost a battle with my little fawn spotted Jack Russell Sophie’s kidney disease. She was sixteen and half years old. Born Oct 10 2000 passed April 19th 2017 in the afternoon. When she was first diagnosed I went on a hunt for solutions and found your site for homemade food, so I went for it after realizing that Hill’s K/D had changed their formula. Sophie loved your recipe! I’m a mixed bag of emotions here as I grieve her passing. It was terrible watching her waste away. I’ve nursed her for two years and frantically searched for help and solutions. She developed vestibular on top of it all which made it worse because I then had to hydrate her intravenously. Frankly, I’ve lost faith in vets. With all the research I’ve done, and the information out there pertaining to renal failure in dogs and cats, there are viable therapies to make our little loved one’s lives more tolerable. I realize there is no cure, but there are definitely ways to ease the suffering outside of being told to euthanize. I’m reaching out and I am glad to have found your website. Your memoriam of Ben is moving. I must wait to find the strength to share my memories of Sophie. I Love her dearly and will carry her with me until the day I die.
I’m very sorry for your loss, Barry. Having almost 17 years doesn’t make any loss any easier, I know — indeed, in some ways it makes it harder because your life has had life in it for as long as most people have their human children at home. I agree as well that the pet food industry and some vets, complicit in propping it up, needs a serious look. All the people battling renal disease in their dogs that I’ve seen the past 2 1/2 years suggest the prevailing treatment of prescription dog food isn’t coming close to being a bona fide therapy: you’re 100% right. Your own account cuts very close to my own experience though I’m very grateful for the amazing veterinary support I received … but I know not everyone that has come through my site has been as lucky. I wish you more fortune as you process the loss and begin the very hard journey that is your grief. It won’t be easy — but don’t despair … a way out will come. Seek the company of those who can relate and understand your loss. Take care and thank you kindly for sharing your ‘success’ of the past two years with others who will relate to you as well. ~ Dale
Dale, thank you for sharing your story. My 11 1/2 year old Rat Terrier was diagnosed with renal failure in January 2017.and my boyfriend and I have been absolutely devastated. We’ve pretty much been emotional every day since we’ve found out and it has been about 4 months now. After reading your story about Ben, it relates so heavily with my dog and my boyfriend. My boyfriend would always joke and say “I would murder 1000 angels with a rusty screwdriver for Junior.” He is in love with Junior and we call him our son.
We are currently giving him SQ fluids once every week and he eats Royal Canin Renal Support food strictly. Lately, he’s not interested in the food. I’ve been looking online for other alternatives and I’ve been obsessed with your page. I am going to try the recipe you created for Ben in hopes that it revives my dog’s appetite.I am hoping I can get at least another good year out of Junior. Just saying that is unimaginable because I can’t seem to imagine life without him.
Thank you again for sharing your story and your experience with caring for Ben with renal failure. I know I am not alone in saying that I greatly appreciate it.
Hi Lou — thank you for sharing the story of Junior and of your own fight for quality time time with him. I can feel your attachment, both yours and your boyfriend’s, to Junior. I hope this recipe gives you exactly what you wish — it is a heart wrenching moment you’re in, I know. Thank you for your kind words but I just hope that many here have the same miracles in their lives that I got to experience. Best of luck to you and Junior.
It’s a sad sad day when we lose our pets. I was carried through a hard part of my life by the unconditional love I got from my horse and later my dogs. If only we, as people, could love and trust as animals. I am so grateful for them and what I have learned through them. My little Precious girl could not open her mouth to eat at the end of her time with us but just before I had to put her down this past February she opened her mouth as I held her and gave me several big licks. What would we do on this earth without this Love! My thoughts and prayer are with you as you journey through this time of mourning.
Thank you for your kind words. I’m long on this journey myself — there is no “recovery” through grief, I find, but there is a kind of acceptance and learning to live with it and understand it, of finding ways not to bury it or fight but accept it as part of the life we knew and loved. I’m sorry for your loss of your Precious — and I hope that you find your own way on your own journey. It’s not easy — but finding great love isn’t either. Wishing strength back to you as well. ~ Dale
Andrea Woods says
I have visited your page and followed your recipes for my furry guy, Darby, for a couple of years. Darby is in his final stages of kidney failure and I am feeling the heartache you have described in your thoughtful tributes to Ben. I’m going to have to make “the” difficult decision in the next couple of days. The depth of our connection to animals is indescribable. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and heartfelt experiences.
Hi Andrea — thank for your kind comment and sharing your two-year journey with Darby’s illness here. I’m sure your love and caring for him has done more for him the past few years than anything. And I know all too well what the torment of the decision ahead of you will feel like — and how hard it is to offer to Darby the greatest gift which will come at a huge cost to you personally. It’s far from easy which makes the gift that much more profound. I wish you great peace and love as you bury your face in his fur and know that when you do in fact make that choice, you have already done everything else you could. It is, as you say, an indescribable connection you have with him … and it will remain yours, forever.
Amy Walsh says
I am just now reading about your beautiful friend Ben. Your words brought me to tears as your friendship with Ben exactly mimics my relationship with my Chili. My sympathies to you even though it has been a few years since your loss. A loss like this does not necessarily ease with time. The pain of losing your best friend can be revived with even just the slightest reminder of them. The memory of them and their presence in your life is in almost everything you do daily.
I have unfortunately arrived at your website because I too, am now facing renal failure in my last remaining little girl. At the beginning of 2016 we had 3 beautiful little girls. In the past year we lost 2 of our 3 little girls. One in June to complications of Addison’s and surgery to remove an intestinal growth. She did not recover from her surgery on June 1st. She died on June 3rd. She was only 11years old. (She was the twin to my only remaining baby that has CRF). But “my Ben” was a girl, and she was called Chili (my sweet, ornery, smart, tough, faithful Chili dog). She was my best friend also and she left me on Dec 27th 2016. I have been lost and so heartbroken without her. She was always beside me, when I went into any room, she waited patiently outside the door if she couldn’t come in. If I went outside she waited by the door until I came back through the door. She was unfailingly faithful. If my husband was looking for me all he had to do was find where Chili was to know the direction I had gone. My heart may never recover from losing her. She passed away from problems arising from Cushings and Canine Cognitive Disfunction. During her last few months we struggled with her confusion and loss of function in her hind quarters…a girl that never had an accident in the house to having accidents in the house every day multiple times a day. Sometimes she did not seem to know where she was or how to do something as simple as come through the doggie door. Things that she had done for all of her 15 + years. It was so incredibly sad for both of us. I now find myself once again faced with a devastating diagnosis for our only girl Cami. I am now trying to concentrate on keeping her as healthy as possible as we face this latest diagnosis. Your recipe for a low protein/phosphorus diet is what brought me to your website. I will try to feed my little girl properly to help her feel good for as long as possible. I appreciate hearing Ben’s story and knowing that we are not alone in grieving for what some seem to consider “only a dog”. Thank you. Sincerely Amy Walsh
Dear Amy — thank you for reciprocating my tears and renewing them with your own story. The attachment and loss are both palpable in your words and through your own story, I’m taken back to my experiences with Ben. To face a single loss of one so special is itself so devastating … to be threatened with the loss of an extended family in such a short time is hard to imagine. I’m very sorry and do hope there is some unimaginable ‘bright side’ or beacon of light through all of this. And I sincerely hope the recipe buys you much deserved time and grace. But as you say, one of the most beautiful and yet surprising parts of my own sharing is the sharing of others with me and how we, all together, are a community … none alone, none alone in our suffering, none alone in our special love.
Thank you … your own sharing is a very special gift.
Marilyn MacCallum says
Your comments on Rosco are touching to say the least. My Panda has kidney and liver failure. The kidneys at this point are my biggest concern. She pees so very many times every day now. About 3-4 months ago, she went first thing in the morning…again around 2-3 pm and then before bed. Now she’s going out approx. every 2 hours. We have gone out in the evenings for a few hours and she was always ok but on Friday nite, we found that she had peed on the floor- something she has never done before. I’ve been reading about the symptoms etc, and it’s obvious to me that her kidneys have deteriorated since her diagnosis. She has the horrible breath, panting constantly, fussy on food, sleeping most of the time….she is 15 yrs/ 9 months so we’ve chalked her sleep habits up to old age so far ( Panda is a black and white pomeranian) I’ve been giving her pedialyte and bottled water half/half and that has seemed to help her some as she is also on heart meds btw, but has had that under control for about 4 years.
I’m going to try Dales recipe for the food he gave to his beautiful Ben and see if I can help her live longer and more comfortable and pain free. One thing I’d like to mention to other readers though is that the vet prescribed “vetmedin” for her and after giving it to her for about a week, she was at the high end of lethargic, vomiting, had diarrhea and looked like she was going to die any minute. I stopped the vetmedin and these symptoms went away within a couple of days.
My Pandas health is at the top of my priority list as my love for her knows no bounds.She is my little girl in a beautiful fur coat and those who know me also know how very precious she is to me, so yes, the tears have been flowing reading all the comments tonite and knowing that the day is coming that I will have to face even though at this moment, the pain of thinking about that is so severe, I just can not deal with it. I have to focus on doing anything and everything to keep her healthy and happy.
Some days she runs down the hallway to see me and I can see it’s a good day for her. That in itself brings me so much joy and gives me so much hope…
Thanx to everyone for the information shared. The sharing helps us all to help our babies!
Dear Marilyn … and Panda. As you say, there are so many heart wrenching and poignant stories here, testament that none of us are alone. There are many common stories here and many variations on a theme as well. The truth is that our old friends, both in fur and in human form, develop multiple chronic diseases which sometimes confound diagnosis and treatment for their bundling of symptoms. The fact is that as one organ/body-system is weakened by age/disease, others generally follow. It is the sad destiny for us all so that in the end, as you and Steve and many others have noted, it becomes an assessment of ‘quality of life,’ the balance of good days still outweighing the bad that becomes the deciding factor. Through all of it, but especially as we approach that critical day of decision and/or acceptance, there is much love to be shared and embraced. Wishing you strength in the days ahead, Marilyn — and wishing you grace as you find it in your relationship with Panda to celebrate your love, even in the hardest of moments.
Dale, I just wanted to write and thank you so much for your thoughtful posts, both your memories of Ben, as well as the amazing efforts you put into the diet to keep Ben healthy during his battle with CKD. I struggle to put into words what you have said so eloquently here. We are facing a similar loss, and your story about Ben really helped us feel like we are not alone in the deep mourning that we are feeling. It is rare to find someone who truly understands how important our canine family members are in our lives, that they are so, so much more than just “pets”. As you said, we are so blessed to have them. Never have I experienced such unfettered love, companionship, understanding, and willingness to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. We have so much to learn from them; they are miraculous creatures and truly a gift. It is through them and their untainted love that we finally get to unearth our true selves.
We have been blessed with many amazing dogs over the years. As has always been the case, our little one (Rosco) has truly been our best friend. As a fellow dog lover recently told me, our canine companions have more integrity and love to give than most people we know. This was truly the case with Rosco. He has always been there when we were sad, always ready to help us be happy, always accepting and forgiving of mistakes, always wanting to be at our side. He was my wingman, the shoulder we cried on, the one we raced to the car, who had spirited discussions about politics (even though we couldn’t quite understand each other), my mountain climbing partner, my jogging buddy, the one who kept me company on long bike rides (from a milk crate on the back rack), our vacuum cleaner in the kitchen – the list goes on. It is hard for me to find a picture of us without Rosco also being in it. As with you and Ben, Rosco was an important part of all aspects of our lives. In that glowing personality, we found so much of what we would hope to foster in ourselves. And sadly, the gaping emotional rift they leave behind is a testament to their huge presence and impact. When I read about how deeply you and Ben went through life together, I understand completely and see that same dynamic at work with our best friend.
Rosco was only 9 years old when he was diagnosed with Stage 3 CKD, only two weeks ago. As you did, we tried to fight it with diet, but we did not catch it in time, and before we could get it under control it was well into Stage 4. Rosco has decided that it is his time and has stopped eating, making the prognosis grim. While he is still with us today, we know that our time very quickly draws to a close and are saying our painful goodbyes.
I write this note to you both as an expression of sincere condolence for your own loss, and also as a thank you for sharing your moving story, so that we could appreciate our own experience and revel in the amazing gift that we too have been given.
All the best,
Dear Steve — and Rosco.
Thank you for such an incredible gift of your note and sharing your appreciation, support, and your kind condolences. My heart goes out to you as you prepare for your own powerful loss. One of the things I have learned through those providing me support and those I have met here over the years is that while many of us have many wonderful dogs and companions in our lives, there is often times ‘one’ which touches us specially, one that becomes our “forever dog.” It sounds like Rosco, like Ben for me, is that spirit in your life and so I know all too well what it will feel like when you lose him and that “gaping emotional rift” opens up. I have truly been touched by your story, of the details of your love and relationship with Rosco. And while we’ve never met and don’t really know each other, we know each other’s hearts, and so from one ‘friend’ to another, a gentle hand on your shoulder. I know your pain … and I’m sorry. Wishing you a beautiful parting when that day does come and know that you, like me, or not alone in any of this.
Hi I was in tears while reading Yours and Bens journey. My Italian greyhound Spooner is very sick and I’ll be making the first batch of Bens food today. I am praying for a miracle and that the food will perk him up and give his kidney a rest. He is eating the special formula can food the vet had recommended but it’s come to him really not wanting to eat it. Spooner was a big foodie”LOVES” food. But who wouldn’t after being starved to skin and bones for the first six years of his life. He’s had a hard life to start with, I’ve only had Spoons four years. He’s my buddy, my wingman my friend. At the moment he’s at the vets on fluid and will be til next Monday then they will biopsy his kidney to really see what’s going on. I visit him everyday and sit with him and massage him, he snuggles close. I stay 1.5hrs. I’d stay more but Spoons needs to go back on his drip to get him strong for Monday. Leaving him is heartbreaking, he looks at me with upset eyes asking me why arnt I coming too? Every day I drive the hour to the specialist centre busting to see him. Part of me is missing when he’s not near but I know he needs to be there at then moment. Thankyou for your story and your recipe
Hi Judy — Thanks for sharing your own story with Spooner. It’s a tough story and one I can easily relate. Being separated at all as he gets his treatment and you still hold the other parts of your life together, so critical to providing for him and his care, are hard things for the heart to balance with your heart’s need to comfort and care. I get it and I’m sure he does at some level too. Stay strong and good luck with the diet. Hoping it helps your furry foodie along in his recovery. We’re always here if you have any questions. Take care and thank you again for your kind words too. ~ Dale
So sorry for your loss! I felt a lots of emotions reading your beautiful thoughts, thank you for sharing it. I’d like to thank you for sharing your dog food recipes — they really help me with my 14 years young Cocker Spaniel. ??❤
A warm smile returned your way — thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. Ben’s spirit remains and continues to help me and many others — so your words are as much for him as me. Thank you again and best of luck to your ‘young’ pup. 🙂
So sorry for your loss. The week before thanksgiving, I lost my sweet Isabella (called her Frizzle) from kidney failure. My heart broke that day. My heart goes out to you too…
We rescued a breeder surrender last week. And after a thorough exam, we were told that she, too, has kidney issues. We have immediately started feeding her healthy, homemade meals. Praying she is with us for years. She’s the sweetest soul.
Merry Christmas Nicole — I’m very sorry for your loss and for your continued hard news with your new addition. I hope your research and no doubt hard work pays off and you have many years of joy with your ball of innocence. Thank you for your kind words and best of luck to you ….
I, too, found your site while searching for recipes for my dog with kidney failure. I completely understand your grief, although I hope that by now you are able to remember Ben without so much pain. Thank you for doing the hard work of creating the recipe. I hope that I’m able to extend my dog Zazu’s life by many years since she is in the early stages of kidney failure and only nine years old. I get the feeling that Ben lived so long because he couldn’t bear to leave you.
I thank you with tears in my eyes for your beautiful words and thoughts. I like to think, like you, that he was happy and felt love, and perhaps even felt a purpose in taking care of me. It was and remains even after his passing a beautiful bond. I hope, for you, that you have many more beautiful years with Zazu as well. Thank you again and very happy holidays to you.
Thank you Dale for sharing your story and your dog’s. Like many others, I have found my way to you through our mutual dog’s illness. I came to look for hope, for any alternative to help my Maggie. I ran to the store to grab the ingredients of your recipe and to give it a try as soon as I get home from work. I’m hoping to buy her a few more weeks… Thank you for sharing your grieving with us. I know I am soon, much to soon, to walk that path. It’s comforting to know someone else as walked it too.. I’m sure you have touched many more than the ones leaving comments here. You should be proud of Ben’s legacy.
Thank you Marie-Pierre. I’m deeply touched by your comment. It is very humbling to hear your story and think of all the people who have come through these pages over the years. Ben would surely love the attention and I’m honoured to be helping a few through my own experiences. I am sorry for you and Maggie’s condition but hope you find some comfort and hope here and indeed some precious extra moments. Thank you again and wishing you the best in an awful time.
I wrote this super long email that I accidentally deleted because I was sobbing so hard. I feel your love for Ben, I feel the same for my Lou. He is light of my life and he is 12 and his numbers are not good. I will be trying your recipe and hope that he likes it. He absolutely hates the Kidney Care canned food.
My deepest condolences for your loss.
Stay strong, Nanette. I saw your other message below and replied to it as well. Thank you again for your own kind words of support.
I cry for you and my heart breaks. My Lou is 12 and has to be put on kidney care but hates the food so much that my husband and I have been mixing his food with other foods to make it taste better. We just feel that life is short to be eating horrible food. Maybe not the best decision. This is how I found you, I will try to feed him something that tastes good. I hope it works.
I have never loved a dog as much as I love my Lou. He is the absolute light of my life. I’ve had his since he was 9 and every day, I can’t wait to come to him.
Your memoriam was so beautiful and touching. I feel your love and pain. Thank you.
Thank you for your heartfelt words and support. I know only too well the conflict your conscience is struggling with but my own belief is that QUALITY of life is more important than long life. There is no quality of life in being forced to eat awful food (if that is even possible with a dog). Follow your heart and do what you feel and believe to be best for Lou …and never look back.
Matt Michael says
I completely understand your dedication and your love and loss. My life is completely dedicated to my dogs. You’re not crazy. The depth of our connections with our canine friends can easily exceed the intimacy we share with other humans. It’s a fantastic thing to experience and crippling to lose.
Very well-put, Matt, thank you. Empathy is such a difficult thing to capture with regards to this relationship. Many don’t get it because they simply don’t understand human’s developing relationships with animals. But even some dog lovers don’t get it. And even some who might get it, don’t, because we don’t necessarily form the same relationship with every dog/animal any more than we do with all humans. It is specific and fundamentally unique — and something, as experience has shown me, that only a few people get to share. Experiencing it, is, as you say, a tremendous loss … but one of rare exception to even be able to feel.
Ben is with you more than you know. He is with you every moment of every day. Look closely and you will find him. I am willing to bet that Ben has been with you your entire life. Physically he comes in and out…but spiritually he is always there. Be happy, be filled with love, live life to the fullest. Why? Because Ben lives through you during his physical absences. If he is not back with you yet, physically, he will be very soon. Count on it!
Thank you, Sheri, for your positive words and support. I know well that Ben is indeed ‘here’ and never far. We just memorialized the second anniversary of his passing a few weeks ago and as I stood beneath ‘his’ tree, it shed a single small yellow leaf, his colour …. The wind picked up and little leaves started to float everywhere. His presence is real and he is always in my heart and near. Thank you.
Craig Smith says
Dale, Im so sorry for your loss and my heart goes out to you. I found your blog while looking for diet info for canine kidney disease which my Willow girl was just diagnosed with. Willow is 9 years old and is at 4th stage and currently in animal hospital getting 3 days of IV meds to try to bring down her high numbers. After she comes home I plan on trying your recipe as she isnt to keen on the renal food the vet offers and I have always offered her a combo of homemade and high quality Acana no grain kibble, Strangely, she appeared fine until 2 weeks ago, other than just slowing down a little from age and the hot summer or so I thought. She started having pee “accidents” and drinking double her normal water amount. Lost appetite, and didnt want to go for a walk. Took her to my vet and they for some reason thought she had a urinary tract infection and treated her for that but she got worse so I went to a different vet, who as soon as I explained Willows symptoms, she said we need to run blood work to look at kidney function. And that is how she is in treatment now.
Your relationship with Ben sounds very similar to my scruffy terrier and I. Willow could be Ben’s twin, except she is black (well ok, also gray, but just trying to catch up to me). I was in tears reading you story of Ben. He sounds like a great companion and you were so blessed to have him for over 18 years. Willow and I “learned” each other so well, sometimes I think she can read my thoughts and understands English, she is my best friend, my child, my teacher, my love. I lost my father a week ago, so not having my best friend around is doubly painful. I can only hope and pray that I can have some more quality time with Willow and hoping she excels and likes your recipe. Ben’s legacy will live on in all the dogs that are helped by your dedication and love for taking the time and effort to post this wonderful blog. I am very grateful to you and again, very sorry for your loss. Best wishes, Craig
Thank you Craig for a beautiful post here. My apologies for the delay, but I’m happy to say I was away on my honeymoon. I hope that by the time this reply reaches you, Willow is doing well and you have found some hope. Our stories do indeed have many similarities and the emotion in which people describe the canine relationships says so much about them all … and clearly unites many of us. Thank you and thank you again for sharing your story here and hoping you have much more time with your best friend, child, teacher and love.
Craig S says
Update: Thanks for the reply. Willow is doing great on your recipe. I also now have her on a product called Kidney Support Gold (you can remove name of product if needed, I am not promoting). When Willow returned from the 3 day vet treatment her BUN was still high at 4.2 and the vet said they were disappointed that they didnt see a better improvement. They told me that in her condition she probably has approx 3 months to live and to just try to keep her comfortable. I started your diet and the Kidney Support Gold that day. Within 1 week I could see her improving. After about 20 days I had Willow tested again and her BUN had fallen to 2.1 and she is back to acting normal, going for long walks and bringing me her toys to play fetch. My vet is amazed and we coudnt be happier. Thanks again for taking the time to pass along the info you learned as I am sure your efforts have added precious time with our Willow girl (im a single dad). And a big CONGRATS on your marriage, best wishes to you and your new wife.
So nice to hear back from you, Craig … and with such great news on the success of Willow. It is very uplifting indeed to think that this recipe may have some part in her bounceback. I hope it continues. I’m sure others will find it uplifting as well as they struggle through similar journeys and news. Thank you again and thank you for the congratulations. All the best to you as well.
Maysa Mascarenhas says
I almost choked reading this… I am sure Ben is happy and waiting patiently across the Rainbow bridge. You need to continue his legacy and extend the love that he brought out in you to another rescue puppy who needs it. I came across this while researching for diets suitable to a dog with kidney disease. My pup is just nine and has some early stages of strain on the kidneys. I am a crazy parent and will do whatever it takes to have his condition reversed.
Thank you Maysa. I know there is another soul out there waiting for our home and I expect that we will find a home for them soon. Thank you for your very kind words. Much love and best of futures to you and your pup. ?
Debra Gorchess says
I came across Ben’s story while researching everything I could possibly find on renal diets for my girl, Prissy. She’s near 16 and a Chihuahua that I have sworn is my daughter since the day she was born. I know I’m facing the same loss you live with and have also begged and pleaded for every extra day I can have with her. I have no words for the pain I know is coming. I couldn’t even read all of Ben’s story for the tears that kept overwhelming me. I do understand the love, the heart and the connection you had with Ben as I have with Prissy. God bless! I’ll be trying some of your ingredients in hopes of slowing her kidney disease that is already Stage 3.
My heart goes out to you, Debra. It is devastating to know there is an end and that it is coming …but I hope you find the silver lining in that knowledge and it allows you to heap on the experience knowing what lies ahead. Thank you for your kind words and I hope someone gives you your own kind words when you need them too.
Dale, I have found the silver lining. I had 16 1/2 wonderful years with Prissy. All those years were filled with unconditional love. My girl had to leave on 6-26-17. It will always hurt to be without her but I have gained so very much because of her. I am very blessed.
I am very sorry for your loss of Prissy. Sounds like you have indeed found the “silver lining,” though and come through the other side … at least far enough to be able to celebrate what you had as well. You and Prissy, no doubt, we very blessed to have each other … and glad you have found the space to feel that as well.
Gemma Smith says
I’m in tears reading this. Ben sounds like he was an amazing fur baby,my molly is 13 and I hope and pray I have her for another five years. She is my best friend and I love her,she gets told this everyday. This was lovely to read thank you for sharing.
Hi Gemma and thank you for sharing and commenting here. I was indeed a very lucky man and I carry Ben with me inside and as part of my heart still. Wishing you many many more good years with Molly and thank you again.
Connie Terry says
I’m now learning to. Prepare foods for my sick pup he’s only 8 and my heart breaks with the thought of looking him. Thank you for your work and research. I will prepare this for my sweet sweet box Jax. I’m so sorry for your loss of your beautiful Ben such a living tribute
Thank you Connie. I’m sorry for your own news but hope things with Jax improve with the diet. Truly, all the best to you and thank you for your kind words of support. Take care.
Dale, I am sorry that Ben has moved on, but happy that you had 18 beautiful years together. My Oscar was just diagnosed with mid stage kidney disease … I found your recipe online which brought me to your blog. What a wonderful caring man you are to have nurtured your little guy for so long. The recipe – 18 egg whites! – now I know why I got two more chickens this year – I now will have exactly 18 egg whites per week. Serendipity. All love from our house to you.
Thank you Patty. Serendipity indeed. So much of our lives with our loved ones is all serendipity, from connecting with them from the beginning, to enjoying every moment we have. Your Oscar is and will be very fortunate to get homegrown egg whites. I’m sure it will make a powerful difference.
Thank you again for your very sensitive and giving words as well. I’m just a man that loved his dog and very dear friend — imperfectly at times, but ultimately the best that I could. Ben taught me how to be nurturing. So we were very lucky to have each other … serendipity indeed. 🙂
I am crying years….my Annie was just diagnosed with kidney disease…I found this while searching for a good diet…..ditto. To everything you said…
I can relate to the kick in the teeth you’re feeling. I’m very sorry but do hope you find a sliver of hope and a lot of support in many places. Thank you for sharing and wishing you much strength.
Lenore Fishman says
I just wanted you to know that your lessons learned of the trials of Ben’s kidney disease and the love for Ben that you have so willingly shared continues to allow his memory to live on and help others. My little ten year old Schnorkie, Izzy, was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney disease seven months ago. She refused all of the commercial diets and I was in a panic. I found your blog and recipe and have been making your diet ever since. She has done so well up until two weeks ago that many times I thought that the vet surely must be wrong. Ben’s diet brought her back to life. Our vet is amazed at how well she has done and attributes it to the “special” care I have been able to provide because of you. She has now stopped eating most everything and I know that that the difficult decision all responsible and loving pet owners must face is in the not too distant future. Before that time though, I wanted to thank both you and Ben for giving us this time. It is sincerely appreciated and will never be forgotten.
While you were lucky to have shared your life with Ben for those 18 years, he was also really lucky to have had you as his Dad.
Dear Lenore — your comment and story here truly brought tears to my own eyes. What a beautiful tribute you’ve paid to Ben in writing this comment. Thank you from my deepest heart.
I’m delighted that you got some very precious extra months with Izzy and I hope that another miracle gives you many more days as well. But as you say, even our healthiest of companions will all sooner or later run out of runway … and that is by far the saddest part of having these precious creatures in our life: that theirs is all too short.
By the sounds of it, you have a lot of thanks that owing to you as well … so even when you you have to make that incredibly hard but ‘responsible’ decision, trust that you did all that you were able that you gave Izzy the best you could. She sounds like a very lucky dog … and you lucky to have her as well.
Thank you again for the kindest words I can receive. Comfort to you through the days ahead and strength to remember your gifts. ~ Dale
I understand as you describe him as the the best of you, and I can hear how much you love him, just like I do my Bella. Your memoriam could have only come from your heart and has stirred mine. I cry for the loss I’ll soon be facing. I’ve been through it before with Dakota, my bluetick coonhound. Not everybody gets to experience the joy of knowing a cherished companion like we have, or the pain of losing them. I potty-trained Bell as a pup, she’s 14 now, and I’ll work for her to the end. Thank you for your website, all of it. -Mark
Dear Mark — Thank you for your beautiful words and for sharing your own story here. You are very right that it requires the experience of great love to feel the loss — the two are intricately connected and the pain of loss is sadly the price we pay for the gift of a unique and very special love. I’m very sorry for the road that you’re once again on and for what lies ahead … but I wish you comfort and strength as you continue along in. I hope the memories of 14 very special years last forever and that you never lose the feeling you have gained for sharing her life. Be well and thanks again for sharing here. ~ Dale
Peggy Sue says
I had one Princess for 17-1/2 years. Vet said I’d never find another one like her. True. But now my newest Princess is 15 years old and failing. She also can never be replaced. Just like most of your story. My heart hurts for you.
Thank you for your kind words Peggy Sue. I hope you find your peace on the road ahead. It is a difficult one at the best of times … harder still after such long lives shared together. Wishing you strength. ~ Dale
I have a 9 yr old shih tzu (he will be 10 yr old,Dec 4) and he is showing early signs of renal problems in his lab results…i’ve been crying like crazy for 2nights while reading and reading everything i need to know about it,( my work friends are asking why i look like i’ve been crying the whole night, or maybe i’m just over reacting, we are both over protective to each other ) and my reading leads me here to your blog…its not confirmed yet but the vet says its a sign…i’m so scared… you are right, if i can give him years of my life i will, for him to live long….its not just a pet when your heart stop beating and freeze while thinking how he will be taken from you. Now i kept on thinking that, thats the circle of life, we born and we die thats it, so when that time happens, acceptance will set in. Because it feels so heavy right now.
I really feel your pain. Thank you in turn for your own empathy. I hope your path improves as mine did … with research came a measure of “control” … and some precious time. All you can do is your best and to celebrate what you have right now. I hope it gives you comfort. Love will also heal ….
Dale, I’ve recently found and have been reading your posts about Ben, and your life with Ben, as my own boy of 14+ years was recently diagnosed with CKD. He’s always been finicky about food, and I’d been making his food myself for several months before his diagnosis because he seemed to be losing weight and had even less of an interest in eating. The food I’d been making him is not good for his condition, as it contained a lot of brown rice, lentils and other high phosphorus ingredients. His initial interest in the prescription diets waned quickly. I plan to try making a version of your recipe to get him eating again keep him from getting too thin. I am also doing supplements and subcutaneous fluids every day and he’s responding well, but I can tell that he’s not feeling quite “right.” Your “In Memoriam” has me sobbing in my office, and I’m not one that cries easily. I just really relate to what you’re saying. Casey’s toybox (where I keep all the toys he won’t play with because he prefers my socks) has the saying sewn on it that you’ve probably seen before: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” It’s not an easy thing to live up to. I feel for your loss.
Hi Jennifer — I hope this recipe works for you and your boy, Casey. It’s a battle — but don’t give up, no matter how hard or desperate it may (or will) become. Sorry for making you cry … but thank you for making me smile. I do love that saying and think the world would truly be if those who loved animals treated humans the same way … and if those who loved humans, treated animals the same way. What a wonderful we would live in … if we could all share our love with animals and each other. Thank you …. 🙂
Helen Bushe says
very moving to read. How you and he loved each other
Thank you Helen — we should each be so lucky to find one true love in our lives … and I’ve had the fortune of two.
Thank you for your graciousness in posting the information about your beloved Ben’s diet. We lost our poodle three years ago and miss him still. Our second poodle, who we love equally has recently been diagnosed with kidney disease and we are looking for anything that will help him to continue to enjoy his life as we make this journey together. My heart goes out to you, as I know only too well how much we wish to keep our best friends with us. Thankfully we do, in our hearts and minds – not enough, I know, but the best we can do.
Thank you Krista … for your sharing and your empathy. You’re right — there are so many ways to maintain that connection and the place of our beloved friends have in our hearts and minds … and yet it never will be enough, you’re right. I hope the recipe helps you with your own present challenge so that when some day you too must reflect on what happened, there is a kind person out there to offer you the same gracious support that you did ‘enough’ and all the right things. Thank you deeply and dearly. Wishing you the best. ~ Dale
He was special will try your recipe as I have a 10 year old greyhound who has been diagnosed with kidney failure
Thank you — I wish you the best of luck with the recipe. Hoping it helps you and your greyhound as well.
I read ur story with Ben….sounds like me. My first ever pet cat who changed my life and made me a gd person… He taught me alot abt life.. Its amazing and not evryone understands this kinda mutual bonding… I love Ben even by just reading ur story. His eyes is a story full of love btwn u and him..Tat strong mutual feeling… Rest in heaven Benjamin….
Thank you, Eva, for sharing your own story and the kindness of your empathy. It means a lot that the love he and I shared can be seen by others who don’t know either of us. Thank you greatly. All the best to you in your own story ….
Firstly, thank you for sharing your heartfelt story of Ben – you have certainly made him proud and taken on all the lessons that you say you taught you – it shows in your writing and how you express your love, feelings and sorrow. The best legacy our loved ones leave behind is their unconditional love and life’s teachings which we continue to feel and use to develop ourselves and offer to others. Ben lives on, I believe, in Heaven, and also in your heart and in all the good work you do. Love never dies and I am sure he is looking down on you with pride.
I’ve lost two of my 4 Bichons to renal failure, the first being Benji, (strangely enough) who was 16 when I said farewell to him. I had him as a rescue when he was 10 years old and he gave me 6 wonderful years, throughout which we enjoyed long walks, holidays and plenty of cuddles which he loved. After his final sleep, my heart broke and, like you, knowing there was nothing I could do to save him, was the hardest lesson of all. I didn’t eat for 4 days, could think of nothing else but Benji and the void he left. But, slowly, I learned to live with the grief and was eventually able to transform my tears into smiles when I looked at his photo, knowing he was safe and out of pain. It was a privilege to share 6 years with him and I began to delight in his memory and the love he had given me and was able to look forward again. That was 15 years ago, seems like a lifetime ago, yet only yesterday. His love lives on in me and in the love I give to my other dogs.
I know that Ben will live on in you and in everything you do and you will go onto use the love you have for the benefit of others. I wish everyone had a Ben to learn the lessons of life then this world would be a better place.
My best wishes to you and may you always be surrounded with love.
It is an honour to be seen so beautifully by someone I’ve never met. Thank you. It feels wondrous that others see in my words what I feel and what is in my heart. Thank you for your kindness to sharing your thoughts and for stopping by here and sharing your hope and encouragement of me. I do hope that I can continue to grow and mature through Ben’s love which does live on, both in me and what I do and as I continue to write about him. My New Year’s resolution will be to start publishing excerpts of our novel … so more of our story to come. Thank you again and thank you for sharing your own heartfelt story here. I’m continuously amazed at how many have shared in the very same experience … and yet in those moments, we feel infinitely alone and isolated. Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year to you and all the best.
Greg Sired says
Hello Dale. I was guided to your article on sweet Benjamin while looking for food recipes for Durby – an Airedale cross that has been my sidekick for 13 years. Wow – you guys were so fortunate to have each other for 18 years! I see that Ben’s body expired over a year ago – I trust you are doing ok – I trust he is loving being a terrier in the spirit world. I felt your love and pain in your writing. I’m still in tears as I reflect on sweet Ben and your relationship with him – I too “get it”.
Durby is my little boy and my old man. He is my father and my mother. He is my teacher and my angel. He is my sunshine. He is still my “5 year old boy – in a dog suit”. He has never been a fighter but he was a “terror” like Ben – full of energy and absolutely rotten until around 6 years old, when we learned to “work together”. He knows me – he knows things about me that nobody else knows. While he is still by my side and we still have fun together, he is suffering from a number of complications that make it impossible not to think of the end – I do not look forward to that day and try to stay present – as Durby does. You have inspired me to give him a hug and kiss right now – and make more good memories today. I will buy groceries tomorrow and make him a batch of food using your recipe – reflecting on you and Ben as I cook.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Ben will always be present – his love for you is eternal.
Love and Peace.
Hi Greg — I can’t say how much your most gracious comment touched me. It is incredibly moving when strangers of similar circumstance ‘get it’ as you say … and have the compassion to share. Thank you!
I likewise find it very moving the way you describe your Durby … your fur-suited boy who is clearly your own everything. And you brought a precious tear to my own eye to hear that Ben and my story so moved you to give him a hug kiss and embrace your today … and make memories of it. Thank you, you kind gentleman and I wish you, Durby, and your whole family the most magical of holidays made more complete together.
Simon Taylor says
Well you certainly did the best for Ben, you were lucky to have him and he was lucky to have you. I feel your pain but you did all you could and were a fantastic Dad for Ben. So sorry to read he has passed away but pat yourself on the back and think about all the things you would have missed if he had gone to live with anyone else.
Thank you Simon. Your words are especially kind. Thank you for “getting it” and words of support. I knew at the time and certainly know in retrospect that I did my best. Ben was and remains a very special dog as I know all dogs are that are loved with purity of heart.
Thank you for sharing Ben with us. Each time he is thought of, or introduced to someone (even today), he lives forever.
Last weekend we brought my dog, Buddy, to the emergency vet at 3:30 in the morning. Something wasn’t right. He wouldn’t walk, eat or drink. When I finally got him to drink a little water, it came back up. To make a long story short, it turns out Buddy has renal failure. But, as the doctor said, it is manageable. So, with an IV bag of fluid, three different prescriptions and a case of dog food (specifically for renal failure), home we went. Today Buddy is doing so much better. He’s walking around, jumping up on the couch and doing all the other things a dog his age does (approx. 12 years old, he was a rescue). The only problem, he would NOT eat the food. So I have scoured the internet looking for recipes. I have made one and he does eat it (thank goodness). I plan to try your recipe also. Thanks so much for all the great information you shared.
Hi Maryann. Thank you for your kindness and sharing your story. It is great how Ben’s story and life lives on. He seems to have helped hundreds already which is unbelievable. I know your pain and the challenge of the prescription food so hope that this recipe along with your other search continues to provide him nourishment and both of you strength. Best of luck to Buddy … it’s a hard road, I know.
its amazing what these dogs do to us. looks like its been just over a year since Ben left…. hope you’ve found some solace. I just want to thank you for your recipe for low-phosphorous dog food. I’ve gone down the dog food wormhole a few times only to end up with dozens and dozens of tabs, notes, contradicting info and eventually I just give up and buy an overpriced bag of dog food :/ Anyway, after reading this memoriam, I completely trust that you did your homework and I will be making the plunge into the world of home made meals for my dogs using your recipes. That said – I do have a 1 year puppy with no issues – should I feed him the same as well? or what could I do to make a large batch for both of them and then perhaps supplement them different for their individual needs? Thanks again for your time and for sharing your friendship
It is indeed amazing how certain creatures — creatures of light — can touch us in ways we would never have predicted. I was never prepared for the way Ben snuggled his way into my heart but that makes it all the more profound. It has been a challenging year filled with tremendous growth and my most recent posting last week talks a bit about this.
I hope the recipe provides you some support and brings some light to your own challenge right now. A few people have asked about the benefits of feeding this diet to other dogs in their family, including those not on special diets. The truth of it is that I can honestly answer that because I just don’t know. My gut says that this would be fine to degree, but I wouldn’t think a lifetime on this diet would be ideal because it emphasizes calories and limits other ingredients important for the purpose of healthy development, including some vitamins found in veggies higher in phosphorus food. Bottom line, for dogs as for people, variety makes sense. I would think this even more important for a “puppy” or young dog who needs other foods. I might recommend you take a look at my other dog food recipe I posted a few years ago — it was a diet Ben ate for many years which I called “Ben’s Breakfast.” I appreciate making two batches of different food is a lot of work, but that’s the best I can advise at this time. Hope this helps. All the best to you Michael … and thank you again for your very kind words. ~ Dale
Dale, I have only just found all your posts after searching for kidney friendly food. My heart goes out to you, there are no words. Every word you wrote, I have in my heart, I feel every emotion you write as I soon will be facing this sad sad time and these thoughts are already a part of me. It doesn’t make you feel any better, but you should take pride and comfort in everything you did for Ben – the bond we have is irreplaceable. I too, would do anything for my girl, she is such a big part of me that she will tear off half my heart when she leaves. As I said, words don’t cover it. Here is my girl’s story…
Bless you and Ben will be joined forever in love, memories and physicality.
I lost my sweet boy today. He was a wheaten terrier and sounds much like your Ben. Your words express what I am feeling in my heart. Thank you for sharing them.
I’m very sorry for your own loss, Maryann. I’m honoured that my words have any resonance with your own heart and what you’re experiencing. It is an overwhelming set of feelings and thoughts, I know, and I wish you strength as you start the journey through your grief and a life without your own boy.
Dale, thank you so much. I’m realizing that grief truly is a journey and a hard one. I’m trying to focus on happy memories; that seems to help somewhat. It’s amazing the imprints these creatures make on our hearts. Thank you again for your kind words of encouragement. They help.
Hello, I read your article and laugh and cry and know that the love you had for Ben is as intense and beautifull as the love I have for mine, also a fighter and thug hes six and was diagnosed with stage 3 KD yesterday, Im going to try everything in my power to keep my boy alive and with quality of life, so thank you for this it has given me strength to realise that I can find a holistic approach and that im not alone in in having the feelings i do. thank you. X
Thank you Kat. It is remarkable the mix of emotions we feel, even in these moments of crisis and fear. I can only imagine how you’re feeling with the diagnosis — I know it rocked my very centre when I got it and then, like you, went into planning mode to help. You’re very welcome … You are most certainly not alone as evidenced by everyone commenting. I wish you the best of luck on this journey.
Julie Holgate says
Hi there Dale, my poor boy George (boxer) started with early stages of renal failure three years ago,we had him on the prescription diet etc then also home made and then back to another brand. He was at the vets yesterday he is a poorly boy and the vet gave us Royal canin tinned renal food and phosphorus binder again I asked him if I could cook george a home diet and he said no,but after doing so much research yet again I’m finding more people are helping their babies by doing the same as you did for your beloved Ben. I’m going against my vet and going to try Bens diet. George’s bun results came back shocking he has so much toxin in his blood. I’ve bought more water filters and plenty of vitamins and coconut oil.He has no medication for his blood pressure or the acid build up. I was wondering is it safe to give George something for the acid at this stage?
Julie Holgate says
By the way your story of your boy touched me very deeply…I cried so much yesterday just looking at my boy.I just want to help him and make his life less uncomfortable and enjoy his food.Thankyou for sharing.
Thank you again, Julie. That means a lot. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by Julie. I believe many vets will traditionally advise against cooking for our dogs because they feel they are responsibly guiding us away from inducing naively wrought harm. I am no expert, that’s for sure, but if we only ever ate what was simply healthy in lieu of that which balanced health with enjoyment, well, all of us would be eating raw food or processed dog food. We can’t live that way and I don’t believe our bonded trusts can either.
As for the acid build up in your George, I only gave Ben Pepcid AC to reduce the acid in his stomach that caused upset there … not for acid in his body. The hope was that through diet, regular eating, and lots of drinking, this would clear itself. I don’t know George and his condition, but if you can find a vet (any vet) you can trust to speak with, perhaps they can advise more. They may well prescribe something to reduce the blood pressure as well. Ben’s was often high as well near the end … but it was hard to get a good baseline on it because of his white coat syndrome. Keep your boy calm if you can at least. Best of luck.
I too was searching for a homemade food for my Bella. At 11 1/2 she was recently diagnosed with RF. She hates the medicine and the packaged dog food offered, so I will try your diet. I am so sorry for your loss of Ben. They do enter our lives and become a friend that never judges. Your story was beautifully written and while I never respond to post, I felt the need to commiserate. Take care of yourself and remember Ben in that special place where you hold him in your heart. I have not been given a timeline for Bella, but for now we throw the stick when she feels like it, although mostly she stays snuggled by my side and in my heart.
Thank you for your kind words and condolences, Jane. It means an awful lot when strangers stop by here and offer up unsolicited words of sympathy and thanks. It’s very moving and much appreciated, so thank you again. I hope the recipe helps Bella a lot and that you have many more wonderful opportunities to throw the stick and feel her warmth at your side. Ben was extremely clingy towards the end … a sign I was warned would come when things got closer. But even though I know that this meant I was losing him, those moments will forever be etched in my heart as among some of our most beautiful days together. Enjoy and may peace find you both.
Hi, I stumbled across your site while searching for recipes online for dogs with chronic renal failure and as I read your most beautiful story about your beloved dog, I was touched beyond words. The love we dog owners have for our dogs is indescribable.
Thank you, Nicolette, for your own beautiful praise. That I can and do touch people with my words, well, that is the reason to write and to share … and to see and hear the impact it makes, well, it makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing and best of luck to you on your own journey. It is far from easy, I know.
My Lexi is only 2 1/2 years old with congenital renal disease. I can only hope and fight that she gets as many years as possible without suffering or missing an opportunity to bark at interesting things. I’ve done so much research at odd hours to gain knowledge to be her guardian through her life. I came across your site and feel the same as you being a layman making sense of it all. Please continue to share your insatiable thirst for knowledge and help the rest of us give our furry children a fighting chance to get to 18 1/2 years. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experience, and inspiring story of Ben.
Ps. Lexi is also a foodie who knows when I am cooking and conveniently parks her 77lbs butt in front of the stove.
Hi Kim — thank you for both stopping by and sharing your own story and kind words. I’m humbled that there is inspiration in my story, but I hope that it brings you hope and many more moments with your own best foodie fan. 🙂
I’m touched by your blog. My dog is currently very ill with the same issues as ben. She’s 16 and 1/2. I got her when I was 18 and when I left the house, she stayed with my mom, who has truly been her mom. My mother is not doing well with this and it breaks my heart on so many levels. My love for Telly and seeing her in the process of dying and watching both my mother and father losing their favorite child, their best friend. Not everyone gets it, but you certainly do and it is nice to see. I don’t know how the future will be bearable but I pray for peace within.
Hi Julie. My sorry to hear about Telly and her challenges and the impact it is having on you and your parents. It is indescribable and hard for many to understand who haven’t gone through what you’re going through. I am hopeful that you and your parents can at least be a great support for your pack of 3 when you one day lose Telly. Till then, I too wish you peace and comfort as you go through this. All the best.
Dale please help me. My 7 year old toy poodle, Precious, has just last week been diagnosed with renal failure. I feel like my world is shattering. I can’t make sense of this tunnel I’m falling down much less the nutrients aspect of all this. I read about your Ben and can feel that Ben is your Precious and Precious is my Ben. Please, Dale, point me in a direction. All the information and websites are so very confusing. Thank you for your time, Becky
Hi Becky. My heart goes out to you and Precious. Your comments truly hit home and remind me of where I was at and I hear your pain and feeling of loss and falling. Have you read my blog post with respect to a renal diet? There is a lot more support for you there.
Brenda Berberich says
Your bond with Ben is amazing and I send hugs and prayers. I am very interested in the diet you created as my Sadie who is 11 has kidney failure too. The complicated thing with her for creating a homemade diet is she has chronic pancreatitis too so she has to have low fat too. Reading through this recipe I guess it seems like this would be good to try but I would need to not include the fat from the ground beef. Would you mind sharing any thoughts you have on this? Thank you.
Hi Brenda. I honestly don’t have much experience with the pancreatitis but I agree the removing the beef fat and and lowering the coconut oil might be the right choices. Sounds like you’re definitely in a more complicated place. I’m very sorry and wish you and Sadie the best.
Kathy Cassette says
Like so many stories of renal disease I to am in big trouble with my Julie. Her BUN went from 67 to 112 in a month and her creatinine is 3.5. A beautiful Yorkie that is skin and bones. I have a vet but I have an appointment with a homeopath vet to get Julie on vitamins. I need her to eat but all this time I thought chicken breast boiled would be best. She hates the canned KD formulas but really likes chicken and sweet potatoes. She now weighs 3.7 pounds – should weigh 6lbs. I make her drink water with a teaspon of pure chicken broth because she doesn’t like to drink water. The other issue is she has only one kidney and less than 25% functioning. No issue with phosphates or potassium – any thoughts. She has been sick for so long I think she has adapted herself. The vet won’t clean her teeth but my thoughts are the gum disease and teeth may be harming her kidneys. Thanks for sharing your story.
I’ve been looking for some advice on recipes for my 13 year old best friend Abbi who was recently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. After reading your recipes and research, I found your piece about the relationship you had with Ben. It’s beautiful and so well written, a special bond between you both that will never be broken.
Thank you Ellen. I’m glad that you both found a recipe to help you and Abbi through her recent diagnosis. Thank you for your very kind words about Ben and my relationship. It means so much to have it recognized and supported. Wishing you the same support in your own journey. Thank you again.
Thank you for sharing your story and in such a beautiful way. Ben sounds like an amazing dog and I’m sorry for your loss. You found him in Warsaw? Are you Polish?
I stumbled on your site because I just got the news that my 10-year old pup is showing beginnings of kidney problems. I’m not sure what that means exactly, the vet says “not kidney failure but …” The prescription diet food they offer is full of vague animal by-products and I’m researching an alternative. Thanks so much for the tips and info.
Thank you Trish. You’re very welcome but thank you for your kind words of condolence. Ben was truly amazing and he is very sadly missed. Yes, Ben was born and weaned in Warszawa. I am not Polish, but I was living and working there for three years and it was during this that Ben came into my life. One of the greatest miracles of my life for sure.
I’m sorry for your own news regarding your pup’s kidney problems. I suspect it early stages of kidney decline but not outright failure: they’re still working, but perhaps not as efficiently as they were a few years ago. Unfortunately for me, Ben’s disease was advanced and unrepairable given his advanced age: his kidneys had simply worn out. I hope for you and your sake that there is something you can do with a change in diet and care. Hope my own experience helps. Wishing you the best and many many more good years. Thank you for stopping by and sharing. ~ Dale
Well hello there! I too have just happened to have stumbled upon this site while in search of something home made for my little guy Milo. He is 9 years old and has been diagnosed with KF as well. I sit here, in tears, and am in awe of how you take the time to respond to each person that has reached out to you and have decided to share as well! I know that you are not a vet or anything but a parent’s love for their pet can encourage them to seek knowledge that will sometimes surpass that of our vets. (Not knocking them by any means!!) My babe is on medicines and phosphorus binders and script dog food and he hates it! They say not to give him all these things, but upon reading the food labels…it has those things listed. So what I have decided to do is make sure my guy has the opportunity to enjoy whatever time he has left on this earth with me. I will keep you posted on his like or dislike for the recipe you have so generously taken the time to share with us. I think I would even eat that recipe myself! LOL
Thank you, Shelai. That’s cute of you to say. Trust me, it’s more than good enough for both dogs and people. I always tasted it as I was preparing it and figured if I made it such that it tasted good to me, it would taste good to Ben. That’s the way we rolled. 🙂 So I agree with you that it is most important to just make sure our boys/girls are happy and content and that any treatment that removes quality of life should be considered very carefully. For most of dogs, food is primal to their life and their enjoyment and when they can’t enjoy it any more, it breaks our hearts. And, yes, breaking the rules in favour of comfort is what I would have done as well.
I’m glad these words, these comments and replies provide something for each of you. I can empathize very easily with how frightening and overwhelming and lonely these battles can be … so if any of this helps just a little, I’m thrilled.
Hope things go equally well for you and Milo. Please do let me know how it goes. All the best. ~ Dale
C. Hines says
I have tears as I read your good-bye to Ben. We had our girl “Puppy” for 19 awesome years and it is so hard to lose a part of your family. After she passed from a stroke, we rescued a Jack Russell named Paisley but I was still grieving. I didn’t begin to heal until we adopted her brother Dexter who is deaf and my little shadow. One year later, we rescued another one in need, older but also deaf, named Sherman and in November adopted another rescue named Harvey who had been cast aside after supposedly finding his forever home.
When Harvey joined our rag-tag bunch he was nothing but bones and we were told the previous adopters returned him because he needed special dog food. We took him to our vet and he did confirm that he has kidney disease so we purchased Hills K/D. He initially gained weight, but has now begun to look frail again. I was so happy to find your blog with your recipe. I have been investigating recipes for making him food at home. I did make him food yesterday as a test and I thought he was going to eat the bowl itself! This proves he is hungry, just not for the food from the vet’s office. We are willing to do anything for our little guy – he is the happiest little sprite you have ever met and we can already not picture our family without him! We were hesitant getting yet another dog, but there is a reason that Harvey came into our lives.
I’m so sorry for your loss; they are never easy to bear. We ourselves are dreading the day when our family is fractured.
What a beautiful set of stories you have to share. I hope they inspire many others who have had the same problems with K/D and other prescription foods … not to quit or give up hope. I hope Harvey continues to go crazy for the food and you have a tonne more beautiful memories with him. He sounds like a great little guy. I’m so happy for you.
Thank you also for your kind words and condolences … but your words and stories and your journey back to rebuilding your family, well, they return the hope to me that you now see in Harvey. Thank you for this gift. I hope that one day, when I’m ready, my own family will grow again with the sounds of furry feet and canine love. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂
My 15 year old cock-a-poo, Kayla, has Cushing’s Disease. She was just diagnosed with Kidney Disease. She started drinking for several minutes at a time and urinating more. She eats very little and is down to 11 lbs. I took her to my wonderful vet who did blood work and told me the sad news. I’m about to try the special dog food for her, but I started looking online for homemade food recipes since she is extremely picky with her food since she’s been sick with Cushing’s Disease.
Your article was so beautifully written. I totally feel for you and your loss. I hope you’re doing okay.
I have the same relationship with Kayla and would do anything for her. She is my best friend.
Thank you Susie, for your very kind words. I am doing ok, thank you, though this past weekend was especially poignant as you’ll read in my most recent post. Your relationship with Kayla sounds beautiful and her battle with Cushing’s rings all too close to home. I hope she astounds as did Ben in his own battle with the disease. Hoping beautiful thoughts your way. ~ Dale
I just found your blog while searching for a homemade alternative to the prescription diet for my 17 year old furkid who was diagnosed with renal failure in January. I have 3 senior furkids (all terrier mixes and rescues) and it so difficult to see them go from wobbly puppy, to confident adult, to declining senior. It’s so painful when I see the middle one (14 years old) with the large swollen snout, where a tumor grows under the skin, and cancer will take him from us sooner rather than later. And the “puppy” of the pack that is 13 and struggling with the start of old age and decline. It’s as if he doesn’t understand why he can’t run and play anymore like he used to, on his bad days when his arthritis and lessened stamina have taken away his youthful exuberance.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t stress that enough. I’m truly sorry. But I just wanted you to know that this post and the one with the “diet” that you posted will help those of us in the same situation you were in. My oldest has decided that she does not like the medicated renal failure food. Your recipe will hopefully extend her life just a bit longer. All the meds and diet are not helping and I know that the end is in sight. I’m just not ready to give her up yet (not that I think I ever will be). But hopefully this will keep her eating and give us all a little more time together.
So once again, thank you. Thank you for giving me a little hope and a little more time, though nothing in life is guaranteed. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to a wonderful furkid who was truly loved and loved you. And thank you to Ben as well, it sounds as though you both made each other better beings and really that is kind of what life is all about…
Thank you Jimmy. Your words, truly heart delivered, are heartfelt and mean much to me. Each comment, each story about words read here have helped, give hope, provide strategy, or just provide a perspective that lets people know they’re not alone … well, each one, like yours, touches me to the soul. And all the more on this weekend, the anniversary of Ben’s birth. Thank you for seeing our love … and thank you for celebrating it with your words here.
I hope recipe provides you many more beautiful days with our own loved ones. Thanks Jimmy. ~ Dale
Hi. I found your post about Ben, while i was searching desperate to identify some recipes for kidney failure condition…my darling dog Bobby was recently diagnosed with this terrible disease..he has 20 years old and he is a part of me…i cannot imagine my life without him. Your words made me crying and impressed me deeply. I m in the same situation and i really cannot how to manage all this horrible situation…still, thank you for sharing your thoughts and your memories with Ben!
Hi Nadia — what an astounding story you have: 20 years, wow! It’s amazing life you’ve shared — but as you say, after such a long time together, Bobby has surely become an integral and very real constant in all parts of your life … and I’m sure the thought of losing him feels like your world will disappear. But trust me, it will be fine … your world will always have Bobby in it and he’ll always be with you. Thank you for your kind words … I hope my own provide you a measure of hope. It will all be ok ….
Sal G says
Monday this week my dog and best friend was diagnosed with kidney failure. He is currently on day 3 of fluid treatment. The vet tells me another two weeks would be the highest hope for him. When I asked about a month he just said “ehh”. This dog means so much to me, I could never detail how I feel for him. He is part of nearly every happy memory I have had over the past 14 years. Thinking of what is to come paralyzes me. I am not strong enough to handle this sadness, I can’t imagine how I will feel once he actually goes. I just want one more Christmas with my boy. This past winter I never expected it to be the last time I would watch him make snow angels and laugh at the snow in his hair.
I’m writing to you because in reading you and Ben’s story I know you two had a similar friendship. Bottom line… How did you get over it? I feel like I will never authentically smile again. It is a misery that I could never imagine. The worst part is no one else loved him like I did, he was my dog and I feel I have no one to truly mourn with. People shrug it off as a unfortunate happening such as minor car damage. To me one of my pillars collapsed, I lost someone that felt like both and old friend and a son. Please give me any advice you can. Tell me what helped you the most.
Thanks in advance, Sal
Hi Sal — thank you so very much for stopping by and sharing your story and reaching out. It is a horrible thing to have to go through — especially for those that are so integrally bonded with their beloved dogs (which most stopping through here most clearly are). I can unquestionably relate to both your pain and your fear. I dealt with both by focusing on treating Ben and making whatever time we had left the most precious. That helped me with any sense of guilt I might have had … but even with all I did, I still felt horrible guilt which I’m told is ‘normal’ and one of the stages of the grief. I would also caution you from listening to literally to your vet’s estimate around duration. S/he might be right, but could well be wrong and your days may be longer or shorter. My advice is to hold each one as precious and be joyous in the good days … and when they run out, you’ll know. Ben surprised everyone around him in his durability and survival … but all roads do eventually end. It is sad, the saddest day of my life, but you’ll survive and be better for having him in your life.
How did I get “over” it? I haven’t is the truth. I’m more learning to survive than to get over it. I go to a monthly pet loss support group, I reach out to friends who support me, and I’ve embraced the memory of Ben and taken comfort in what we shared and focused on the joy as much as I can … which in 18 years, is more than ample. I also write (a lot, as you’ve seen) which has allowed me to work through so much of the pain and the loss. It’s not perfect, but each day is a little easier to endure.
Hope this helps Sal. There is nothing easy about it, that’s for sure.
Sal G says
Thank you for the great response. I honestly pulled many of these tips you stated from your numerous blogs and poems. Even some of your poems that seemed to unrelated to Ben contained bits of advice. I know I will never be the same, but I am also learning of a beauty in that. I’ve come to the conclusion that one horrible moment is well worth the years of simple, pure happiness he provided. You mentioned in one response how your vet never gave you a clear answer, or specific numbers. Mine was very much the same. It made me feel even more powerless.
On a happier not, I brought my friend Jean-luc home today. The fluid therapy helped him a lot, and I am glad I at least get some more time with him. I feel today that the fight has only begun. I will do anything to make this dogs last weeks ,or hopefully years amazing for him.
Once again thank you for even getting back to me. I’m sure I’ll be back in the weeks to come. I just want you to know that your writings have helped me out so much.
You’re very welcome. There is no magic answer to any of it. It’s not that my vet didn’t try to prepare me for what was coming but she knew and was right that being specific wasn’t necessarily helpful or what I needed. In the end, Ben defied all expectations and there is nothing wrong with being ‘wrong.’ What I’m saying, is that not knowing didn’t leave me powerless. Knowing that it was coming gave me power to act and try … and I can’t thank my vet and others for that. It allowed me to make the absolute most of Ben’s final year: a gift I’ll always cherish.
Sal G says
The lack of information made me feel like I couldn’t do any research on my own, thats what I really mean when I say powerless. My vet was very cold, he made any option beyond euthanizing him seem a cruelty. In the end I got lucky and met the second vet helping my pup. She turned out to be much more sensitive toward me, yet aggressive toward treating my dog. I know it may not pan out the way my hopes paint it, but it was nice to hear a vet say “We’ll see him again this time one week from now.” vs. “He had a good run”. It at least helped me momentarily.
Today I took the day off being it my pals first full day home in nearly 4 days. I spent every second with him, attempting to record his scent, and fortify the general great feeling just looking at him provides. I’ll need it for the long run. I’m honestly relieved a bit by the simple fact that I at least had today with him. I emulated our early days, when he was only a few months old and me a responsibility free kid. I will cherish this day, it’ll be a gem I hold during my own final days. My biggest fear was that he would pass at the vet, I at least know I will never have to deal with that.
Once again, thank you for your time. I do not have many places I can really vent about this and it is much appreciated.
Sal G says
I got rushed and then cut off while writing my response. I apologize for the typos etc. Thanks again, and I look forward to your future posts. Keep on writing, and taking pictures. You are damn good at it. You and Ben’s story has provided me with so much insight into my immediate future, as well as some comfort. The relationship the two of you shared lives on with such vigor it deeply affected a person you have never met, and that is amazing.
I came upon your blog, as I was looking for a diet for my dog that is starting to have renal problems. She has congestive heart failure and an enlarged heart and has to be on high doses of Lasix, and other meds. I knew if the heart condition didn’t take her, eventually the medications would affect her kidneys. Unfortunately, I found out the other day from the vet, it is starting to now. I am so saddened and panicked, and want to do anything to help her.
Thank you for your helpful food tips for dogs with renal problems. As I was reading your blog about Ben, and looking at his pictures, I thought he was so beautiful, so adorable. I could feel the absolute love you have for him. I understand because I feel that way about my little Pomeranian who has the congestive heart failure.
I didn’t know what date the blog was written, and I assumed Ben was still alive. Then, suddenly, I saw where it said Ben- in Memoriam. And, I literally gasped out loud. I am so sorry to hear Ben passed away in Oct. My heart broke when I read about him taking his last breath. It made me think about one day when I will have to deal with that, and I cried. Im so sorry you lost your baby. You are sooo lucky you got to have him 18 years..altho, no matter how many years it is, it’s never enough. Blessings to you for taking such good care of Ben all those years.
I was wondering, what was he given by the vet, in terms of meds, etc, to help his renal failure? What supplements was Ben on in the last months? When he was first diagnosed with chronic renal failure, do you remember what his bun/nitrogen, and creatine numbers were? ~ Lisa
Hi Lisa. Thank you for your very sweet words about Ben — and thank you for ‘getting it’ regarding 18 years not being enough but that I was extraordinarily lucky to get that time. I’m sorry to hear about your girl though. To answer your questions, Ben wasn’t on an awful lot even at the end. He was taking a Pepcid AC tab each morning for the nausea/acid. Similarly, he was getting a small dose of Mirtazapine for the nausea and to stimulate appetite (this was Ben’s ‘happy’ pill). He was also taking tramadol once and then twice a day towards the end — this is because of the acute arthritis he had in one hip. I was convinced the pain from this was causing him more nausea than the renal failure because his appetite improved once the tramadol was in him. The only other thing he took was some Q10 coenzyme and half a B50complex vitamin each day. I wish I could tell you his BUN numbers. I could probably find out, but the results were always given over the phone and the vet would simply contextualize them as very high, or higher, or lower than each previous test. Sorry I can’t be more specific. I hope this helps a bit — but if you have any other questions, please let me know and I hope your girl improves. ~ Dale
Sal G says
I am currently going through the same, and with a pom no less. I’m here looking for anyone who can give me a suggestion on how to manage this emotional burden. I did not know sadness like this existed. It is the hardest blow I have ever had to endure, and he isn’t even gone yet. I can’t imagine this world without my friend in it…
Angela Pucillo-Bjarnason says
I have come upon your page out of desperation. I have been searching the internet for low phosphorous recipes for my 13 yr. old Chi Chester and came upon your page. I am so appreciative to have found your recipe and tips. Chester has CHF and now is having renal issues..so thank you. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Ben. I am in tears everyday at the thought of losing Chester. Your tribute to Ben could have been written by me about my life with Chester. He has never been a pet or an object that I own. He is family a part of me. I cherish everyday with him…Thank you
Thank you Angela for your very moving words. I hope Chester likes the recipe and that together with your love it provides you many more good days to cherish. I know how much I cherished the last months, weeks and days … so many moments when I just looked at Ben and was at peace and full of love sharing them. I hope you and Chester have as many: they will last you a life time.
I’m writing tonight with a heavy heart, but I have been given hope by your article on the kidney diet recipe. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My 17 year old dog Tango has taken a turn for the worse with his chronic renal failure. I love him and very much consider him my best friend and partner in crime. He is so much a part of me I can’t even put it into words. Its funny to say that, because he is a very independent dog (spitz breed called Norwegian Buhund) and his first year of life was spent without me (he came from the humane society). 4 years ago he had a kidney illness and my vet told me then that, based on the blood tests, he was going to die soon. It was a scary and anxious time. I just didn’t believe the vet. I’m so in tune with Tango every day..I just knew that the episode must be an acute kidney failure brought on by something toxic he ate, because he was so healthy and invincible before that. I was right. Months later I told the vet that Tango was doing extremely well, the vet said it was a miracle. Since then he has lived a fully healthy, vibrant life eating well. His diet has been high quality, but not kidney restricted because he’s been the picture of health..people think he is an 8 year old dog.
Fast forward to this week. Tango came down with an acute case of pancreatitis. It was devastating to watch because of what was happening to him..vomiting bile, lethargic, in distress. I found out his kidneys are having major problems. I’ve spent the last 5 days at the vet and with him at home. I’ve been giving him subcutaneous fluids (and IV fluids at the vet during the day), meds for pancreas, and trying to get him to eat..he has not wanted to eat anything the last 5 days and it has been very hard because he is so weak and won’t eat. It is touch and go because I don’t know right now if he’ll bounce back and live on another 6-12 months or if this is his last month. I’ve been in shock because it’s happened so fast and I’ve had to figure out how to be his nurse and research what to do. He’s always just been such a healthy dog.
All the meds and the subq fluids have helped him feel more comfortable, but he still wasn’t eating anything (would barely touch chicken and rice) and that was alarming because he is frail and weak. I’ve been force feeding him food with a syringe down his throat because its been so long so he ate any nutrition..which has made me feel so bad because he of course doesn’t like it..he trusts me and I’m doing these things to him (syringe feeding him, leaving him at the vet all day, sticking a needle in him).
Today I saw your recipe article and just went for it..hoping against hope he could eat. I cried tears of joy tonight when he ate so much of it I had to take it away (to spread out over small meals). I had wanted more than anything in the world to see him have an appetite for something. The last days have been emotionally exhausting, but I see him looking so much better tonight. I still don’t know if this is Tango’s last month or if he is going to once again rebound like he’s always done. Thank you so much because your article was exactly what I needed…something to feed him that he would want to eat and that would be okay for his kidneys.
I’m so sorry to read about Ben. I will cherish the last days with Tango, however many there are, because he has been a great dog.
Oh, Patrick, your kind words and generous sharing of your own story brought tears back to my own eyes. Your story really touched me as it reminded me much of Ben’s final push. I know so well the “hoping against hope” feeling, your desperation, the feeling of being between a rock and hard place as you do things that seem to almost intercede between your love of Tango and your fight to keep him going. It’s a very hard place and often it seems two steps forward and one step back. I had friends over for Thanksgiving two days before Ben passed away … no one would have thought it would have changed as quickly as it did. But there were other bad days before that from which he bounced back. Like I say, my heart really goes out to you. Tango looks like a beautiful breed — reminds me a bit of Ben in some ways. Protect your bond is my advice. It is the most precious thing when all else starts to slip away … your love will, in that moment, make all the difference. But yes, it will still hurt like bloody hell. Wishing you both tremendous strength. Thank you for sharing. I’m truly touched that Ben and I could contribute partly to this special day for you both.
Marilyn M says
Dale so sorry about Ben. That was a great story and so much like mine. Thank you for sharing the diet, I am going to make it this week for my beloved Katie. I’m typing this with tears in my eyes. Please know you and Ben are in our thoughts and prayers.
Thank you Marilyn for your kind words and your thoughts and prayers. I’m sincerely glad so many people are “looking out” for Ben wherever he is and it does my heart good. Thank you.
My thoughts are with you Katie as well — I’m hoping she likes it and it brings joy to you both. Wishing you strength yourself ….
Lisa Collins says
I feel that the longer you and your dog are together, the bond becomes even stronger. You become so in sync. As their hearing goes they rely on your gestures and expressions and sometimes you forget they can’t hear you because the communication is still there from that strong bond. After tending to my dog, Tasman’s senior needs that last few years if his 15 year life I realized I have a very special place in my heart for the older dogs in the shelter that are forgotten. I am now caring for my second senior adoption since I lost Tasman. Her name is Leah and she is my Velcro partner. I found your blog while looking for a kidney diet online. My girl is picky but my vet has been working with me on supplements already such as Epakitin. We’ve occasionally done IV fluids and laser treatments. When she quit eating her prescription dog food I started grieving, already. Now, instead, I will put that energy into the kitchen and try your recipe. As long as I feed her lots of little meals, give her Pepcid an hour before, exercise her she perks up but she has lost 20% of her body weight in a year. Whether these guys have six months or six years left, I think they deserve lots of hugs and smooches, a cozy couch, good food and loads of fun and road trips. I can never repay them for all they do for me, but I can try. Thank you for your beautiful website. I will share this with others.
Hi Lisa — thank you for your beautiful words and sharing your story. I couldn’t agree more with the pleasure these canine senior citizens bring. Ben was a very different dog as a senior citizen and our bond changed because of his increased dependency as you state. His demands on my time weren’t so much more as they were different — but they were also more rigid and structured, which is understandable.
As for Leah, your story is very familiar. The option of IV fluids was put on the table for Ben if things ever got to that point. It’s supposed to make a difference for some. I realized that there was another part to Ben’s care that I didn’t include in the recipe but which I recently shared on the recipe page itself and that was need to stimulate his hunger the last few months. His vet prescribed Mirtazapine for him which I came to call Ben’s “happy pill” because it is anti-depressant in humans. If things get desperate for you and Leah, this might help if your vet hasn’t already considered it.
Thank you again for sharing your beautiful story. All the best to you both.
beth descala says
My heart aches for the loss of your sweet Ben. Please know that his kidney disease and your recipes give me hope. My Sadie, a 14 1/2 yo labrador, has just been diagnosed with mid-stage renal failure. I, like you, am heart broken. The amount of information and research is overwhelming. I am so grateful for your insight and recipes. She has always eaten raw organic food and I intend to give her a tweaked version of this, thanks to you and Ben. Thank you for your kindness.
Thank you, Beth, for your very kind and gracious condolences. Ben was a truly amazing friend. I do hope that our story and experience provides others like yourself with both hope and a way through a very heart-breaking diagnosis. It is an overwhelming feeling, I know, and just as hard and overwhelming as getting the news about any loved one facing a difficult diagnosis and prognosis especially because in the case of our canine companions, we play a more central role in their care and treatment. It is hard to be that caregiver, especially at the beginning, whilst we struggle with the news and all that information. It can be quite paralysing. I wish you great luck and success in caring for Sadie and that you have much more quality time together. Relish it. I know I did and it made all the difference.
My heart is full as I read this! I can tell your precious love for Ben and I am so sorry for your loss! As a dog lover too I know the impact dogs can have on our lives, they are so much more than just a dog. They understand you and are ALWAYS there for you! Thanks for sharing such a intimate, honest post. Glad you found my blog so that I could find yours and read this powerful tribute!
Thank you Joy for your own heartfelt comment and response to my writing. When I read your beautiful words, I think so many things in our lives have the power to be more than “just” what they are … some things are perhaps sublime in their size (like the Grand Canyon you shared or Niagara Falls) while others are powerful for what we imagine or how they touch us personally. Ben was “just” that creature in my life that made it whole and made me who I am. I’m glad for seeing your beautiful photos and have you return the gesture with such thoughtfulness. Thank you.
I found you trying to find home made recipes for my Yorkie. She’s 10 years old and was just diagnosed with Stage 3 renal failure. I’m crying as I write this for your loss and for my poor Leyla. I fully understand you when you say Ben was part of your family. Leyla is definitely not a dog, she’s an integral part of my family and I just don’t know how I’m going to go on without her.
I’m trying so many different things in the hope that it will extend her life…it’s all I have!
Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes, people don’t understand the love one can have for their pets.
Thank you, Rosa, for your very kind words and thoughts. It means a lot. You’re right that not everyone really ‘gets’ the connection — but lots do, so it’s great that a community of support can gather around those that share this view.
I hope as part of this and finding my site that you’ve found the recipes for Renal disease that I posted as well — and hope they provide you both hope and some extra time and your Leyla with some quality of life.
I’m amazed at how common my story is and am so glad that there is a growing community of you sharing with each other.
Frank Simpson says
I have no idea whether this will work or not but I offer (I hope) this essay from a very distinguished author…
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
OF AN EXTREMELY DISTINGUISHED DOG
by Eugene O’Neill
Tao House, December 17, 1940
I, SILVERDENE EMBLEM O’NEILL (familiarly known to my family, friends, and acquaintances as Blemie), because the burden of my years and infirmities is heavy upon me, and I realize the end of my life is near, do hereby bury my last will and testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is there until after I am dead. Then, remembering me in his loneliness, he will suddenly know of this testament, and I ask him then to inscribe it as a memorial to me.
I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are wiser than men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their days hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my faith. These I leave to all those who have loved me, to my Master and Mistress, who I know will mourn me most, to Freeman who has been so good to me, to Cyn and Roy and Willie and Naomi and—But if I should list all those who have loved me, it would force my Master to write a book. Perhaps it is vain of me to boast when I am so near death, which returns all beasts and vanities to dust, but I have always been an extremely lovable dog.
I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. In my life I have tried to be a comfort to them in time of sorrow, and a reason for added joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think that even in death I should cause them pain. Let them remember that while no dog has ever had a happier life (and this I owe to their love and care for me), now that I have grown blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation. I feel life is taunting me with having over-lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-bye, before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love me. It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien and terrible which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows? I would like to believe with those my fellow Dalmatians who are devote Mohammedans, that there is a Paradise where one is always young and full-bladdered; where all the day one dillies and dallies with an amorous multitude of houris [lovely nymphs], beautifully spotted; where jack rabbits that run fast but not too fast (like the houris) are as the sands of the desert; where each blissful hour is mealtime; where in long evenings there are a million fireplaces with logs forever burning, and one curls oneself up and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams, remembering the old brave days on earth, and the love of one’s Master and Mistress.
I am afraid this is too much for even such a dog as I am to expect. But peace, at least, is certain. Peace and long rest for weary old heart and head and limbs, and eternal sleep in the earth I have loved so well. Perhaps, after all, this is best.
One last request I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say, “When Blemie dies we must never have another dog. I love him so much I could never love another one.” Now I would ask her, for love of me, to have another. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, now she cannot live without a dog! I have never had a narrow jealous spirit. I have always held that most dogs are good (and one cat, the black one I have permitted to share the living room rug during the evenings, whose affection I have tolerated in a kindly spirit, and in rare sentimental moods, even reciprocated a trifle). Some dogs, of course, are better than others. Dalmatians, naturally, as everyone knows, are best. So I suggest a Dalmatian as my successor. He can hardly be as well bred or as well mannered or as distinguished and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master and Mistress must not ask the impossible. But he will do his best, I am sure, and even his inevitable defects will help by comparison to keep my memory green. To him I bequeath my collar and leash and my overcoat and raincoat, made to order in 1929 at Hermes in Paris. He can never wear them with the distinction I did, walking around the Place Vendome, or later along Park Avenue, all eyes fixed on me in admiration; but again I am sure he will do his utmost not to appear a mere gauche provincial dog. Here on the ranch, he may prove himself quite worthy of comparison, in some respects. He will, I presume, come closer to jack rabbits than I have been able to in recent years.
And for all his faults, I hereby wish him the happiness I know will be his in my old home.
One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever
you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in
your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: “Here lies
one who loved us and whom we loved.” No matter how deep my sleep I shall
hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging
a grateful tail.
Dear Frank — thank you for so generously sharing this remarkable piece of writing. I hadn’t ever seen it before and had I, it probably wouldn’t have resonated like it has … or moved me to tears as it is doing. It is very beautiful and smart and possesses much wisdom which is already sinking in. Thank you for this healing gift. It is ‘working’ as I think you hoped.
Hi Dale, I don’t know what to say. I came across your website accidentally and you don’t know what it it has done to my heart. I lost my ‘Shintoo’ at the age of 12.5, on Dec 3, 2014 due to renal failure. He looked exactly like Ben!! I had a chance to know how my Shintoo would have looked at Ben’s Age. Days and Month passed by but I am not able to realize that he really left. Everything inside and outside me seems vacant. So, I know how it feels. I am sorry for Ben and You. I believe that nothing has the power to separate me from my sweet heart, every moment spent is taking me to him, know matter how long this hide and seek goes. That’s the thought that keeps me at peace. I am happy to know that you have given Ben a beautiful life – being loved is a blessing. Thank You.
Thank you for your very kind words of support and sympathy. I’m very sorry for your own loss of Shintoo. I’m glad that my own words can and perhaps have provided some measure of empathy and support. The grief and loss is huge and while it will certainly get better, it won’t soon go away. I haven’t been able to put Ben’s water bowls away yet, in part because other dogs visit and it seems ‘right’ to have them there … but I had to stop myself from reflexively filling them up this morning when I saw them empty. All to the say, the vacancy is profound because these creatures filled so much of our hearts and lives. It is beautiful indeed. Thank you again.
Ps. I would love to see an image of your boy if you want to upload it here or email it to me.
Priceless Joy says
I am still just about to burst into tears from reading this beautiful tribute to your sweet and beloved dog Ben. I know how our dogs can climb into our hearts and stay there forever. Ben sounds like an exceptionally special companion and I know how difficult it was to have to say goodbye. But I believe, it is only “goodbye for now.”
This past March I had to have my beloved Princeton euthanized. I found him (or he found me) at a local animal shelter. He was only 2 years old. Twelve years later, his kidneys and liver were failing and then he suddenly had a stroke. it just about killed me, and I still grieve for my best friend, Princeton. I have some wonderful memories that are close to my heart.
Thank you so much for sharing this eulogy of Ben with us. Thank you for opening up your heart and spilling it out for us. (Something tells me you need to write a book titled, “Ben.” I would buy it!)
Thank you Joy. I’m continuously in awe over the incredibly kind words people I’ve never met have been offering me in condolence. Ben was truly a miracle for me. I’m quite sure we were meant for each other — we needed each other. I don’t think we would have created the same magic without each other.
I’m sorry for your own loss of Princeton. Your story has remarkable similarities. Thank you for your sharing your sympathy and kind encouragement. As of Sunday I’m 3500 words on the way to that book … my resolution for 2015 and my promise to Ben.
I was able to get an emergency appointment at the vets today for Elvis’s eye. When the vet stained his eye she saw 2 small ulcers starting to form in his eye. They prescribed some antibiotic ointment and said to continue with his drops. Hopefully the swelling in his left eye will decrease like his right eye has done. They increased his subcutaneous fluids to 150 ml in a.m. and his p.m. stays the same at 100 ml, but if necessary it can be increased to 150 ml. Elvis weighs 14.2 lbs and I guess 300 ml a day is max for his weight.
Yesterday he had a vomiting episode that turned out to be a seizure. Never so scared in all my life. I remember when he was just a little guy, maybe 4 or 5 months old, he was choking on a piece of dried food and I screamed for my friend to call 911. Her dad thought I was crazy. He refused to allow us to call 911. Thankfully, I was able to get the piece dislodged. You can’t even imagine how mad I was or what I almost did to that man. I would have gone to the big house.
I hope you don’t mind me using your web page as an outlet for what is going on with Elvis Aaron, because it might be almost every day. If you do, just let me know and I will stop. I never have spent so much time on or for anyone and not mind doing it, except for this angel baby. Crazy, huh? Well, Elvis Aaron is my everything and there is nothing I would not do for him to keep him happy and comfortable.
It is time for his fluids, so I will end.
Is there a way to upload a picture of Elvis? Just so there is a face to go with my entries on your page.
Your story of Elvis choking as a pup is a story I’m sure many here could relate to that love their dogs as much or more than any humans they know. It’s pretty telling as to your relationship with Elvis. He’s a lucky guy. I can definitely relate to you calling him an angel. If you email a picture to me firstname.lastname@example.org I’d be happy o upload to your comment here for you.
I also know how important having an outlet of any kind can be to process thoughts and emotions and to have contact with someone that gets what you’re going through. You’re more than welcome to continue to write here your thoughts and what you’re going through. However, if you’d like to keep it less public, you’re also welcome to email me above as well instead. I’m certainly happy to listen and provide any sounding back that I can as you go through this. Take care Elizabeth.
I am not much of a writer, but here goes. I am so sorry for your loss. I can relate to every word you wrote. My boy, Elvis Aaron, is 16 1/2 years old. He is blind with glaucoma, completely deaf, kidneys failing horribly, and the list continues to grow daily. I have asked for the same things you did with Ben ( i.e take time off my life to give to him, lay his illnesses on me to spare him, or I would do or give anything to keep him here and well). I cannot imagine my life without him in it. It is so hard writing this that my glasses are filled with tears, as my nose runs. Sorry for that visual. I love Elvis so much, yet it is more than just love. I do not know how to put these feelings into words, because maybe there aren’t any words that can express these feelings I have for this beautiful soul who has been by my side through everything, good and bad. I wish my love for my baby could and would heal him. Elvis has helped make me who I am today and without his unconditional love I would be a completely different person, I am positive. I apologize, but my boy just woke up and he needs me. Thank you for sharing and reading this. Many people just don’t get it or understand how I could feel so deeply for Elvis Aaron.
Dear Elizabeth — your words are extremely moving and brought tears back to my own eyes. Thank you for sharing the depth of your own emotions right now. You’re so right — it does make a tremendous difference to have someone to share what you’re going through. It’s hard … and it will likely get harder. I hope you’re able to surround yourself with people who do ‘get it’ and understand. I have joined a support group here that is helping me — helping me, more than anything, put in perspective how incredibly precious the gift I had from beginning to end. When I hear other people’s stories, it brings home to me how lucky I was …. And, by the sounds of it, your Elvis Aaron sounds like he has had a pretty lucky existence with you as well. Our bonds are truly symbiotic. I hope you are able to cherish these moments with him and that no one robs you of the appropriateness of your love. Please accept a virtual hug across the distance and know that if you ever need to feel connected to someone who gets it, please write again. Wishing you kindness and strength ….
I just wanted to thank you for your recipe for renal impairment. Elvis Aaron loved it. He ate the whole serving. I did not think he would, because just earlier I gave him his Lactated Ringers Solution. That makes him tired. Any how, Elvis ate more than he has in days. I am beyond happy. Now if I could only get his glaucoma under control. Any thoughts? I already use two types of eye drops ( Dorzolamide HCI and Latanoprost). I keep a humidifier on in the room to moisten the air, because his eyes dry out bad. I rinse them with sterile eye wash and that helps, but it just doesn’t last very long. I hate having to always poke and prod at his little body. Well, now he is off in dream land, so I better get some rest while I can. Once again, thank you so much for sharing your story. You are a bright light in my dark tunnel of fear and dread.
Hi Elizabeth — I’m glad that Elvis loved the recipe. I think that nourishment no matter almost whatever ails us as humans or dogs is imperative to survival. Without the food, there is not much strength. As much as I was very careful and toiled for months over the life of Ben cooking for him and that this was a huge part of his longevity, the fact is that over the last few weeks of his life, we put all that aside, and I just fed him anything he’d eat and I just celebrated any day which brought him joy and nourishment. Truthfully, that is what palliative care means … and as we stare at what seems like an unimaginable road ahead of us and our companions, the only thing that matters as we get to the miles is the comfort and love we can provide. It sounds by all accounts you’re doing everything to provide your boy with exactly that ….
As for the glaucoma, I’m afraid I can’t give you any advice on that one. It’s not something Ben had to fight. I’m glad you went to the vet. That is the best decision, I’m sure.
Those of us who “like” this post a/o comment, know this great love and unfortunately, this great pain.
I lost my boy Archy a number of years ago and (god forbid my mother reads this), it was more painful than when I lost my father two months later.
For the weekly photo challenge: Love, I wrote about the question of whether animals feel love. I know they do, and I know…that Ben loved you as much as you love him.
Oh, Maya, thank you so much. You’re very right, those that “get this” post seem profoundly touched by it because they have and/or do feel much the same in their particular bonds. I know that we has dog/animal loving humans have a great tendency towards anthropomorphizing these creatures, especially with dogs whose eyes and expressions bear so much resemblance to our own — but those of us who have felt it and seen this love in our boys/girls eyes know that it is much more than a projection of our own feelings. We can see the connection, see the recognition, and see the love … and a love which is much more like that of a parent for a child, than as a child for a parent. It is unconditional, both ways, and so a very unique and very special gift, which is why its loss is all the more poignant. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
Noortje Russel says
I saw you visited my blog and curiously payed a visit back. Stumbled upon this blog, and am now in tears. Not many people understand the deep bond you can have with a dog, and how heartbroken you are when losing this dearest companion. I know exactly how it feels, and I am deeply moved and impressed with this wonderful tribute of this very special and incredibly cute dog, that was such an important friend to you.
Thank you, Noortje. That is incredibly kind of you to visit and to comment. I could truly empathise with your incredible photoshoot with Diaz. I put Ben through countless shoots of different descriptions over his life and he endured, tolerated, and ultimately enjoyed the fawning I gave him as we “played” together. You’re right that it is rarer for people to truly relate to the bond we share with these magical bundles of love, but I’ve been blessed with the amount of people in my life that actually do. I’ve come to understand that Ben truly grew to become my “forever dog,” a rare and and especially blessed bond. Thank you again.
What a beautiful and touching tribute.
Thank you. Ben brought out so much of the best in me … I hope he is able to continue to guide my pen and focus my camera, to be the muse and the light of my spirit.
Steven Slater says
I just read your site as we to are trying to find a way to extend our dogs life as well.Scamper is only 7 and the vet informed us yesterday that he may only have a few weeks to live.I was crying as I read your article,but it also inspires me.I to believe that finding the right combination of his food will help.I really appreciate your spending the time to chronicle and share your recipies.
I have been making his food from scratch for a while now as the Vet put him on a low protein diet as well.But like you,I believe that it not so much the protein,but the phosphorous levels.
Thank You for sharing your findings.We won’t stop trying!
Thank you so much Steven for your very kind words. I can truly empathasize with the sadness of Scamper’s condition and your undoubted pain and fear as you do everything you can to give him hope. I hope these recipes can provide some of that for sure. Ben absolutely hated the prescription-diet vet food that was “low protein.” Giving him human food prepared just for him extended his life many months … but, more than that, it gave him many contented, happy, and quality-filled months. Don’t give up. I know it is hard, especially at this stage of Scamper’s life — hold him tight and enjoy every day with him. These memories will be the most precious to you later on ….
Forgive me for not having read enough of this site to realize your little guy has gone before I sent in my comment a few moments ago. I lost one of mine in April of this year and still feel the overwhelming sadness without her. I know you must still be heart broken. So very sorry for your loss. It will be a legacy for Ben to have helped out countless others suffering from CRF because of your research and sharing of Bens story and his recipes. My deepest sympathy and blessing to you. He will be waiting for you at the bridge to help you across when that time comes.
Thank you Alexis. No forgiveness required. I’m glad you found the low-phosphorus recipes and I hope it helps you and your girls for many months. Ben has indeed given a huge legacy to me and I hope to many others searching for solutions like yours and ours. Your words are very kind and mean so very much more than you can imagine. Thank you from the bottom of my heart ….
Oh Dale, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been away from the internet for a couple of weeks and only now managed to read this beautiful tribute. Animals fill such a void for those of us who are introverted and misunderstood by those smiley extraverted people who aren’t motivated to look beyond the exterior. What an amazing boy he was, and still is, in his new existence. Warmest wishes to you in this difficult time.
Thank you so much, Julie, for you infinitely kind words. I do feel an incredible bond with our four-legged friends who express so much without the need for words and don’t demand us to be anyone we’re not. Ben was and is — I agree — an amazing soul mate of mine. Thank you again, Julie, I hope you’re well yourself.
what a beautiful and stirring tribute to your best friend. I’m so sorry Dale, can I offer some virtual hugs to get you through the day. I can’t promise your pain will get better but it will become more distant. Eventually.
How lucky are we that our lives can be touched with such love?
Thank you Bernice for your words of condolence. That’s very kind of you to offer. It is very moving indeed all the words and expressions of support and love I’ve been receiving. The days are definitely hard and while I’m trying to resume all points of my life, so many are steeped in the memory of Ben … so floods of emotion continue to come, often unexpectedly. But, yes, there is no question as to my deep fortune at having found and been able to spend 18 years with such a love.
Thanks again. 🙂
Su Leslie says
I’m so sorry that you’ve lost someone so special. Your thoughts and feelings are so eloquently expressed. Cheers, Su.
It’s gut wrenchingly sad, losing an animal who has become a constant companion and family member. My heart is with you. It sounds as though Ben was a truly exceptional and special fellow. How lucky to have known him.
I wish your family peace. Cheers
Thank you Shelley. That truly means a lot coming from a “stranger” (well, a person I know only through words at least). I appreciate your own love of animals and your dog Haggis so your empathetic reflections and sharing are very sweet and kind and warmly received. I am truly lucky to have had the fortune of spending so much of my life with such an adorable and heart penetrating force as Ben. I do think he was truly exceptional, but, more than anything, his impact on me was as well. Thank you for sharing your heart and kind words.
Dale, this is such an achingly beautiful tribute to your beloved companion, Ben. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the loss of my companion, Cookie, in October of last year. I send you my heart-felt best wishes during this time of deep grief and sorrow.
Thank you so much for that, Carol. The words came from a place of deep love. It means a lot to have them reflected back as beautiful. I’m sorry for your own loss of Cookie. A year later, how does it still feel?
Dale, thank you for your kind reply. I still miss Cookie every day but I am grateful that she taught me to kinder and gentler, as Ben did for you. I was so heartbroken after she died that I decided to adopt another dog – my house was just too empty without her. Of course, she was unique and irreplaceable, but my new companion, Pinto, is also unique. Like Cookie, he was abandoned and abused and needed someone who was willing to work with his challenging behaviors. Cookie smiled, and Pinto sings. So my house is not so quiet or so lonely, and I am more patient with Pinto because I had such a faithful friend and gifted teacher.
Again, I send my best wishes to you, Dale.
Gayle Bissett says
Your testimony of Ben is incredibly beautiful and touching. An animal can truly affect our heart and soul and cause us to change our outlook on the true values of life. They love so unconditionally and without reservation and it for us to be grateful to them for teaching us the qualities of love, purity, goodness and virtue.
Oh, Gayle, thank you so much for sharing such beautiful words. Ben had such capacity to love and make me smile, to make me laugh, to fill me with life. He was a teacher to me, a spiritual guide, a transformational force. I am indeed so grateful to him and filling my heart with so much goodness. Thank you for being so empathetic and sweet. It means so much to me. Thank you.
Marie-Josée Martin says
An incredibly moving testimony to the special relationship you and Ben shared.
That is very kind and sweet of you to say, Marie-Josée. It means so much to me that I’ve been able to communicate that to the world … to have captured that for even for myself so that I never lose what it is to have loved and lost such beauty in my life. Thank you so much.
Kristen Westman says
I lost my Dot girl two summers ago. Dot was a beautiful Ginger tabby but more than that she was a force of nature. Dot was a talker–she communicated unlike any cat I’ve ever known, and reading your tribute to Ben brought back all the feelings of loss and gratitude from that summer. Dot’s illness and death were sudden, and she was young (7 years)–a sucker punch of the worst kind. But how lucky we were to have her as long as we did. I feel for you. I remember. It’s odd to say, but treasure your grief. It’s the price of such a rare and precious relationship.
Thank you Kristen and I’m sorry for your own loss of Dot. I’m touched that what I shared resonated with you and your own experience — certainly what you shared resonates with me, even the description of Dot being a “talker.” Ben was as well. He was so cute as he ‘mouthed’ sounds. I swear if he hadn’t had a dog’s palette, he would have one day blurted words out. And I really want to thank you for your own words about treasuring the grief. I have felt that since the start — I’ve felt that I needed to immerse myself in this pain and loss and while I don’t mean to dwell in it, but to integrate that feeling into who I am, to know what it is to love someone that much that the loss tears at my soul. It is indeed a very very precious affect. Thank you again.
Anne Waters (amwaters) says
So sorry to hear about Ben. My sympathies.
Thank you Anne. I appreciate your thoughts.
Gill sweet says
Hello. I have just become a dog owner for the first time , and I’ve been looking for advice on feeding . I came across your article about feeding your dog when he became poorly. I was so very sad for you . I understand completely how you must have felt when he died . 18 years is an amazing length of time that you had your dog . I hope by now you are feeling a bit better.
As I look across at my dog snoozing on the sofa beside me I think of the happy times we will have, but also a sick dread for the day that will come when he’s no longer here. But I will love him every day while I can. Sending you hugs xx
Thank you Gill. I’m very touched by your kind words for an otherwise stranger. I was and, indeed, am very fortunate to have (had) Ben in my life. Knowing that there is an end is life’s ‘kind’ reminder to enjoy the moments we have. Seeing the ice cream disappear from a bowl doesn’t make us sad but it does tell us to savor each spoonful and enjoy it to the end. Our beloved companions are much more dear than ice cream, I know, but your realization is nonetheless one we could all take heed to remember. Enjoy your companion and I wish you 18 years and more of your own. Thank you for the hugs and they’re returned. ~ Dale
Thank You Dale for Sharing Yr Homemade CKD recipes, Yr Beautiful Ben, Yr Love Story, & Life Together! After months of desperately searching online for CKD info & recipes, I experienced a miracle intercession from Ben’s big heart! I can’t believe I had not found yr site/recipes/story before!! I am So Grateful to Ben for leading me to You/Yr website, and to You for Creating & Sharing it with All of Us!
Our beloved 17yr old, long haired dachshund, Scout, was recently diagnosed with CKD. Like Ben, Scout also has Cushings. I find these dual diagnoses/symptoms curious & challenging. (And perhaps sometimes even helpful, as Scout’s Cushings seems to/may contribute to his appetite, which might otherwise be poor.)
We have a good vet who is typically helpful. He referred us to excellent University Vet hospital when Scout needed emergency back/disc disease surgery several years ago. A year later, when his hair still had not grown back over the very large incision area on his back, Drs finally realized/diagnosed him with Cushings. And upon Dr recommended treatment with Rx Vetoryl, his hair grew back. Recently, after Scout collapsed at Vet’s, & Dr finally realized/tested/diagnosed stage 3-4 CKD, our Vet was reluctant to suggest any changes, like stopping Rx Vetoryl, or Rx food/diet changes, or nutritional supplements, etc, to ease CKD symptoms & progression. He said nothing helps & expect to put him down in 3-4 mths. With online research & persistent persuasion, our Vet agreed, with how I had; stopped his Rx Vetoryl (as it was driving Scout into Addisons with each application, due to his weak kidney filtration), switched to low phosphorus/high nutritional diet, & added nutritional supplements, which Scout has adapted & responded to very well.
We know Scout can not live forever, nor do we wish to prolong any suffering, but currently he is doing so much better than expected. Naturally he is still declining, albeit slowly. Once fiercely independent & energetic, he now follows me around from room to room, like a worried pup. He still rallies when we’re together, loves food, enjoys exploring outside, or resting comfortably by my side. I was so encouraged that Ben passed peacefully & naturally at home with You. I know I may have to make the call myself to end his suffering if/when the time comes, but nice to know some pets can go on their own terms & peaceful timing.
I know you are not a vet, but yr a completely devoted & extremely resourceful Ben Lover, who would do anything, & did everything, to help Ben & improve his life at every stage. I know every dog & case is different, and I have already, gratefully, benefitted so much from your challenging experience, but I respectfully request any add’l insight you could provide…
How/Did you treat Ben’s Cushings/symptoms?
How/Did his Cushings treatment change after his CKD diagnosis?
Do you know if, or how, Ben’s Cushings, and/or its treatment, may have contributed to his CKD diagnosis? How/Did Ben’s Cushing symptoms appear to affect his CKD symptoms?
I live in a smaller town, but probably worth traveling to find a good holistic vet to help with my concerns.
I took note of your complete regimen for Ben. Are there any add’l Rx or natural supplements, that you may have used or found helpful, that may ease discomfort in decline phase (that do not accelerate disease), and/or any for when greater discomfort or suffering begins closer to death?
Thank You so much for listening & caring & sharing Dale!
P.S. There is a scene in the great show, ‘Ted Lasso’, where several characters are discussing death & what each thinks happens. One character says he thinks that in heaven, dogs/animals are in charge, and we lay by sleeping by the fire. I look forward to meeting Ben and all our sweet angels there!
Thank you, Catherine for your very generous post and reply here. I’m sorry for your own journey with Scout and his battle with Cushings. It has been a very long time since Ben’s diagnosis so it is hard to really answer your questions with much accuracy or detail. Yes, for a period of time, we did treat the Cushings with pharmaceuticals, changing his diet with the homemade breakfast, and monitoring his blood work until things more or less came under control and then stopped the meds. He wasn’t given a long prognosis so we weren’t aggressive with the treatment and in my view, as long as he wasn’t suffering and otherwise was happy and his blood work didn’t indicate any other problems, we just managed the symptoms … which was lots of drinking and lots of peeing. So I hired a dog walker to attend to him during the day to avoid the accidents. We did this for about 7 years, so wildly exceeded any prognosis. I don’t know if any of this was connected to his kidneys — hard to say, really. The supplements he got are listed on the recipe. Nothing more unless you count all the table scraps he got. 🙂 After 18+ years, his organs just got old is my best guess. He lived a long and good life. And, yes, I love Ted Lasso and know the episode well. It made me smile too.
Take care Catherine — and Scout too. Thanks again for the amazing message. Be well.